Fatal Respiratory Illness from Vaping
Since 2003, vaping has taken the tobacco industry by storm.
Vaping is a form of inhaling nicotine vapor in a liquid form from an electronic device specifically designed to replace traditional cigarettes.
The companies that produce vaping products falsely market these “e-cigarettes” or “electronic cigarettes” as a safer alternative to traditional tobacco cigarettes because the user inhales and exhales vapor as opposed to smoke.
However, these claims of a safer alternative of nicotine use are not only false, but it also fails to regard the fatal respiratory illness that can be attributed directly to vaping.
As of 2018, The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported sixty-eight deaths and 2,087 hospitalizations have been linked to respiratory illness caused by vaping across the U.S.
Many of the deaths and hospitalizations from vaping are middle school and high school students.
According to the CDC, 1 in 4 high school students actively engage in vaping.
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What is Vaping?
Vaping consists of an electronic device that supports a cartridge that is filled with a flavored liquid containing nicotine.
The user holds down the button and the device heat the liquid to produce vapor, allowing the user to draw the vapor into their mouth and inhale to their lungs.
Flavors range from traditional tobacco, cotton candy, various fruit candies, and other sweet flavors. One of the most popular vaping products is Juul.
Due to the design of the vaping device and flavors of the liquid nicotine, many researchers believe this to be a primary cause of high vaping use by youth.
However, adults can also contract fatal respiratory illnesses from vaping.
Vaping allows the user to draw in much more vapor than a traditional cigarette would allow.
This is a major reason why vaping can be much more dangerous than cigarettes.
A greater amount of nicotine can be absorbed by the user in one “hit”, increasing the risk of potentially serious harm to the lungs.
What is Fatal Respiratory Illness?
Fatal respiratory illness caused by vaping nicotine is a disease that affects the lung’s ability to function properly and results in death.
Symptoms of this disease typically begin to manifest gradually within a few days, but it has also been known to present symptoms over the course of several weeks.
Symptoms of fatal respiratory illness include difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, pain specified in the chest region, and cough.
Other symptoms reported affect the gastrointestinal system, such as nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting.
Some individuals report symptoms of fever, fatigue, increased heart rate, and weight loss. Researchers have reported finding unusually high white blood cell counts despite identifying no discernible infectious disease present.
If you or someone you know is experiencing these symptoms, it is highly imperative that you seek medical treatment as soon as possible.
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How Does Nicotine Work in The Body?
The Neurobiology of Nicotine
The neurobiology of nicotine explains how the drug interacts in the brain and what effect it produces.
The primary chemical in tobacco is nicotine. When nicotine is smoked, the chemical is immediately absorbed into the brain.
It then stimulates the adrenals and releases the neurotransmitter epinephrine, which then activates stimulation in the central nervous system (CNS). This causes increased heart rate, blood pressure, and respiratory rate.
The nicotine also activates dopamine receptors, allowing for higher levels of the neurotransmitter to be released into the brain. Dopamine is fundamental in experiencing pleasure and reward, which makes cigarettes highly addictive.
The average tobacco smoker inhales about 1-2 milligrams of nicotine per cigarette. This is much higher in vaping. Those milligrams of nicotine quickly climb to peak levels in the bloodstream as it reaches the brain.
This pleasantry can quickly become addicting. If an individual smokes 1 pack (20 cigarettes) of cigarettes a day, he or she inhales the nicotine for approximately 200 hits to the brain.
With vaping, this can easily be equivalent, and more likely, much higher of an amount due to the amount of nicotine consumed in one hit and the easy accessibility and convenience of vaping. This is reinforcing the dopamine rush and can easily create a nicotine addiction, especially when vaping for a long period of time.
Addiction is a chronic disorder that is caused by alterations in the brain that compel an individual to compulsively seek and use psychoactive substances despite the negative effects it has on his or her physical health, mental health, and overall life.
Vaping addiction is particularly dangerous because nicotine is known to cause cancer among other serious health problems that can lead to stroke, heart attack, and death.
To many people who do not understand the disease of addiction, it can appear as though the individual struggling with addiction has a lack of “willpower” or is not “strong” enough to overcome his or her urges to use.
However, this is not only fallacious but also derogatory and unhelpful to the individual who does not want to be stuck in the vicious cycle of addiction.
When an individual begins abusing vaping, he or she may experience enjoyment and feel as though nothing is wrong due to the pleasurable feeling that nicotine produces in the brain. However, continued vaping use can easily lead to vaping addiction because the brain develops a tolerance to drugs.
The tolerance causes the individual to vape more than usual in order to achieve the same effects as he or she previously did upon first vaping. Withdrawal symptoms will begin to manifest when the individual does not partake in vaping for a certain period of time or attempts to cease all use.
To avoid withdrawal symptoms, the individual will continue to vape to feel normal. This is because the brain is altered with frequent nicotine use, resulting in vaping addiction.
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What Are the Effects of Vaping?
Researchers currently do not know the long-term effects of vaping.
However, the short-term effects of vaping are currently being studied and made available to the public by the authority of the U.S. attorney general.
Short-term effects of vaping can include fatal respiratory illness, nicotine addiction or dependency, impaired brain development in youth, mood and maladaptive behavioral changes, bronchiolitis obliterans and other lung diseases, and illnesses from other toxins in vaping liquid.
Nicotine is already known to cause various types of cancer not only limited to the lungs.
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