Rash of deaths is scary, but what are the long-term effects of vaping?

A new generation exposed to nicotine addiction from vaping is just one concern.

Several recent deaths and more than 800 cases of lung disease associated with vaping have many asking about the safety of electronic cigarettes. Questions about the long-term effects of vaping also linger in the air.

“Vaping is an unknown as far as impact it may have on the body,” said William O. Lacy, M.D., pulmonologist with Norton Pulmonary Specialists. “And at this point we are seeing a rash of acute severe illnesses and even death related to vaping. The cause is unknown, there has not been one substance linked to all cases of this acute illness.  Additives added to the vaping cartridges has been postulated.”

Many consumers who use e-cigarettes do so as a way to stop smoking traditional tobacco products. E-cigarettes have been marketed as a safer alternative with fewer chemicals. While there may be fewer chemicals, research on these chemicals is inconclusive on how they potentially affect the body.

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“I am certainly concerned with the acute illness that is impacting so many but I am also concerned about the unknown long-term health effects of vaping,” Dr. Lacy said. “It took decades for the health implications of tobacco abuse to be defined and confirmed.  The use of e-cigarettes is exploding and we do not want to wait decades to identify long-term pulmonary issues.  I’m also concerned with an entire new generation being exposed to nicotine addiction, an addiction that is so hard to kick.”

Health officials nationally continue to investigate the cause of the rash of serious lung illnesses associated with e-cigarettes, and Louisville officials recently urged people to stop vaping amid the concerns about safety.

Symptoms of Vaping-related Illness

Primary symptoms include:

  • Coughing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain

Additional symptoms can include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Weight loss

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