Scientists indicate that the answer is yes—vaping may increase the dangers connected to COVID-19. The virus itself has been devastating to the health and lives of hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. Since using e-cigarettes to vape can cause lung damage and other respiratory issues, the combination of the two could increase a person’s risk of developing more severe COVID-19 symptoms.
Perhaps you are worried about your own habit or are concerned for a loved one who uses e-cigarettes or vapes. You might wonder how this habit could affect vape fans during the pandemic. No matter your reasons for seeking out this article, you undoubtedly want you and your loved ones to remain as safe and healthy as possible.
In this blog, we will explain what vaping is, who are using e-cigarettes to vape, why vaping alone can be considered dangerous, and why it is especially risky to vape because of the COVID-19 virus pandemic.
What is Vaping?
In the simplest of terms, “vaping” is when someone inhales the vapor produced by an e-cigarette. An e-cigarette is a device operated by a battery that replicates the experience of using an actual tobacco-smoking product—but without the smoke.
With e-cigarettes, the user inhales a vaporized form of liquid nicotine or other e-liquids available which are a non-nicotine liquid mixture. The e-cigarette device has four main components:
- A battery that activates the e-cigarette
- The e-liquid that is contained in a cartridge
- A heating element that converts the liquid into vapor, and;
- A mouthpiece
Using the battery, the e-cigarette creates an aerosol by heating the liquid which is composed of nicotine, flavorings, and other additives. The user then inhales the aerosol into their lungs. Cannabinoids including marijuana and other drugs can also be
used with e-cigarettes.
E-cigarettes are available in a variety of diverse names and are also referred to as electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS), mods, vapes, vaporizers, alternative nicotine delivery systems (ANDS), E-cigs, vaporizer cigarettes, and vape pens.
To make them appealing and convenient to use, e-cigarettes have been designed in several distinct shapes, sizes, and forms. They may appear to be regular cigarettes, pipes, cigars, pens, or even USB flash drives.
What is the inhaled vapor composed of? According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the aerosol used in e-cigarettes which users breathe in and then exhale can contain substances known to be harmful as well as other potentially harmful substances, including:
- Ultrafine particles that may be inhaled into the lungs
- Flavoring that may contain chemicals linked to serious lung disease
- Volatile compounds
- Cancer-causing chemicals
- Lead, tin, nickel, and other metals
The CDC also made the disturbing observation that consumers can find it a challenge to know exactly what e-cigarette products actually contain. For example, some e-cigarettes may be marketed as containing ‘zero percent nicotine’ but have actually been found to contain nicotine.
Who is Vaping?
Users of e-cigarettes are found among all age groups. However, according to a recent study, an alarming number of young people, both young adults and teenagers, vape with e-cigarettes. In particular, the Journal of The American Medical Association (JAMA) made this comment after a survey conducted in 2019 of over 19,000 participants: “The prevalence of self-reported current e-cigarette use was 27.
5 percent among high school students and 10.5 percent among middle school students.”
This is especially relevant to the risks of COVID-19 for young people who vape. Throughout the pandemic, young people have been less likely to take social distancing precautions to avoid the virus.
It is unclear whether this is because young people feel that they are strong and healthy and thus don’t need to fear the virus. It could also be that there is considerable attention focused on the elderly, who must be extremely cautious. Regardless of the reasons, vaping and ignoring warnings to avoid catching the virus is a very dangerous combination.Why?
Why is Vaping Dangerous?
In late 2019, reports of severe vaping-associated lung illnesses increased in the United States. As of mid-February 2020, a total of 2,807 hospitalized E-cigarette or Vaping Product Use-Associated Lung Injury (EVALI) cases or deaths have been reported to CDC from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and two US territories.
The symptoms of vaping illness may be somewhat inconsistent from person to person and the symptoms may develop over time (between a few days to as much as several weeks) but there are several alarming commonalities that vaping illness shares with COVID-19.
For one, symptoms. Affected patients of vaping illnes
s report the following symptoms:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- Abdominal pain
These symptoms can also be found among those of COVID-19. It is reasonable to expect that illnesses which share symptoms can exacerbate one another. Think of it this way: One criminal is bad enough, but if you put two criminals in the same room, think of how much damage they can cause.
In a way, the situation between these illnesses is similar. Regardless of which troublemaker comes into your life first, whether a severe vaping-associated lung illness or COVID-19, together they have the potential to make everything even worse.
Vaping Illness and COVID-19: A Real-Life Bad Guy Duo
Vaping illness and COVID-19 work together like destructive villains. They are like Darth Vader and The Emperor. Or the velociraptors and the T-Rex of Jurassic Park. Except that vaping illness and COVID-19 are anything but fiction. Battling either of these illnesses alone, we would feel overwhelmed, let alone both.
According to a recent study, people who smoke were 2.4
times more likely to have severe symptoms from COVID-19 and be admitted to the ICU compared to those who did not smoke. Bear in mind, though, that using e-cigarettes to vape has been shown to have similar consequences of traditional smoking.
On the specific topic of COVID-19, American Lung Association’s Chief Medical Officer Albert Rizzo, M.D. made this observation: “It would be reasonable to think that any condition that potentially affects the lungs…regardless of the ingredients inhaled, could play a role in making someone more susceptible to complications from the disease.”
He went on to highlight that, as of today, scientists can’t state with certainty that smoking or vaping can increase the chances of someone contracting the disease. However, the current evidence shows that those who consume the ingredients found in smoking products are more susceptible to more severe symptoms if they were to contract the COVID-19 virus.
The American Lung Association went as far as to make this pointed comment: “What we do know for sure is that smoking and vaping causes harm to the lungs, leaving lung tissue inflamed, fragile and susceptible to infection. In addition, tobacco use has been proven to harm the immune system and airway lining cells that contain cilia on their surface, which are our essential defenders against viruses like COVID-19. Without them working properly, the lungs are more vulnerable.”
If we lived in a fictional world, needless to say, we would probably choose to stay as far away as possible from the Death Star or Jurassic Park. Following this same principle, we must try our best to avoid both vaping-related illnesses and COVID-19.
Keep Safe and Stay Healthy
Virus: The word has its origins in Latin, and when the word was first introduced into the common vernacular it meant “poison.” Here we are today, some 500 years later, and it can genuinely be said that the coronavirus is indeed a sort of poison, as it has penetrated and endangered our lives.
When our 21st century is just another page in the history books, COVID-19 may earn its place on the page as one of the most foreboding illnesses of our time, much like the Spanish Flu and the Black Death of centuries past.
This time is hard for all of us, but keep in mind that e-cigarettes and vaping could further contribute to a person’s pain and suffering. It can even escalate the danger of COVID-19. We sincerely hope that you and your loved ones stay safe and that the information here helps you in your efforts to avoid any additional pain from the current global pandemic.