Vaping Health Hazards Increase and Present New Risks Entering Flu Season

KATY MAGAZINE NEWS

September 11, 2019

By Natalie Cook Clark

 

The harmful effects of vaping continue to grow, as does the number of young people using e-cigarettes. This week a Houston high school student was hospitalized due to a medical event linked to vaping. Now new research shows that vaping lowers the user's immune system, a great concern as we enter flu season.

 

Vaping Popularity Grows Despite Risks 

Vaping is a growing problem among today's youth. According to the government, from 2011-2015 vaping products experienced a shocking 900% increase in middle school and high school students nation wide. Research predicts the number of people vaping could reach 55 million by the 2021. 

Katy ISD Expresses Concern

“Vaping is fairly new, and until now, medical professionals have not had a future illustration to present to the public regarding the damage and danger that vaping can do," says Therese D. Highnote, BSN, RN Katy ISD Director of Health Services. "Vaping exposes users to many different substances, such as the flavorings, nicotine, cannabinoids and solvents that cause harm."

 

What is Vaping?

“E-cigarette” refers to all the different products that deliver nicotine electronically. Consumers call them by many names including: e-cigarettes, e-cigs, cigalikes, e-hookahs, mods, vape pens, vapes, and tank systems. Most e-cigarettes contain nicotine, which can cause addiction and can harm the still-developing young brain. Vaping products can look no different than a small USB drive or other common electronic devices. 

 

Houston Student Hospitalized 

On Monday, a Tomball High School student was hospitalized after passing out and not being able to get up after using a vape pen. The student used the vape pen at an after-school choir orientation. He was taken to the hospital and has been released. However, this event serves as yet another reminder at how dangerous these products can be.

Vaping Affects Immune System

Vaping harms the heart and lungs but new studies show how much it can affect the immune system, especially in women.

 

"As we enter the official flu season, local doctors with American Family Care (AFC) are warning patients about the health dangers of vaping as well as other habits that could put you at a higher risk of picking up flu infested germs over the next few months," says a spokesperson for American Family Care, a national healthcare network with a local medical facility. 

 

Health Advisory Issued

Last month the CDC issued a health advisory encouraging medical providers to educate patients about an escalating outbreak of severe lung disease. Federal health investigators are looking into at least 450 possible breathing illnesses associated with vaping, including five deaths.   

 

Additional Research

Research published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine reports puffing on an e-cigarette disrupts the normal immune system's response to viral infections, like the flu.  The study also concluded that vaping really can negatively affect woman’s immune system.   

 

The Public Library of Science found e-cigarette vapors can trigger substantial inflammation in the lungs making them more likely to get infected by bacteria or viruses like the flu.

 

Respiratory Illnesses Linked to Vaping Increases Risk 

“These studies and all the recent reports of vaping related respiratory illnesses across the country, amplify the dangers of e-cigarette use during flu season.  The red flags continue to pop up, vaping is a health hazard and doing it this time of year puts you at high risk to catch the flu,” says Dr. Benjamin Barlow, chief medical officer of American Family Care.  “The number one defense during flu season is getting a flu vaccine, but you also need to avoid habits, like vaping, that can up your chances of getting the flu.”

 

E-cigarettes are banned by Katy ISD

The school district clearly defines vaping products:  "E-cigarette means an electronic cigarette or any other device that simulates smoking by using a mechanical heating element, battery, or electronic circuit to deliver nicotine or other substances to the individual inhaling from the device. The term includes any device that is manufactured, distributed, or sold as an e-cigarette, e-cigar, or e-pipe or under another product name or description and a component, part, or accessory for the device, regardless of whether the component, part, or accessory is sold separately from the device."

 

"This is a very serious issue, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is warning the public about the potential dangers and side effects," says Highnote. "I urge all parents to talk with their children and educate them about the effects and dangers of vaping.”

 

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