We reached out to Kristy Braun, Nurse Practitioner at OSF Pediatrics and BN Parents’ Medical Spokesperson, to see what information she could share with parents regarding the concerns they are seeing in the office related to vaping and the Coronavirus. Kristy has been working with adolescents for over 25 years. Here is what she has to share.
In the last year, a mysterious severe lung disease linked to vaping was identified. E-cig/vaping associated lung injury, called EVALI for short, has created a public health crisis. Some of these cases were from devices that contained nicotine and others contained THC or CBD oil (compounds of cannabis). Because this is so new, there are not a lot of scientific studies done to provide concrete data relevant to the risks of vaping. As of February 18, 2020 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports there have been 2,807 hospitalized cases and of these 68 people have died. Most of these are young adults and teens. Unfortunately, with the COVID-19 pandemic, many of the studies will be on hold for now.
A new concern is developing infection (sepsis) with contaminated vaping tools. A local teen developed overwhelming sepsis after vaping while he had strep throat. This is a life threatening infection.
The primary job of your lungs is to provide gas exchange. From the lungs, oxygen goes to the heart which pumps it to the rest of the body. If organisms causing infection get into the lungs, they can then get into the blood stream and sent to organs, potentially causing overwhelming infection. The theory is vaping tools themselves can be contaminated with bacteria, viruses and fungi. A recent Harvard study showed up to 23% of devices are contaminated with organisms. This can potentially set up a dangerous process for infection to get into the body.
Another concern more recently with the Coronavirus pandemic could be more serious in people who vape or smoke. Both cigarettes and vaping products can damage the lungs making weakened lungs more susceptible to infections such as pneumonia and coronavirus.
Please talk with your child and teen about putting any pollutant into their lungs. The lungs are meant to breath in oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide, nothing else! In time, more studies will provide evidence of the dangers, but in the meantime, look at basic anatomy to explain the dangers. Remember it took hundreds of years to prove that cigarette smoking will shorten your life. Let’s hope it doesn’t take that long to do the same.