From seniors in high school to senior citizens, most people have heard of this relatively new term, “vaping.” What does it mean to say someone is vaping? Vaping is defined as, “the inhaling of a vapor created by an electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) or other vaping device.” It may be called a vape pen, vaporizer, e-pen, e-pipe, e-hookah, e-cigar, JUUL, puffbar, or e-cig. It can look like a thumb drive, highlighter, pen, watch, or even fit in a hoodie! Though it may come in different shapes and sizes, the bottom line is the same. These devices produce a vapor that typically contains metals and chemicals, such as the addictive chemical known as nicotine, plus other flavoring chemicals which agitates the lungs. Let’s look at what vaping is really doing to the body, from the very first puff.
From the Moment of Inhale
Many kids express curiosity about these devices. From references in pop culture and online, to what they see at home, children are always curious. One middle-school-aged child was recently asked about her experience after she revealed she had tried vaping in the past. She said, “It felt like my throat was on fire. I tried to rush to drink water but coughed so hard it came out of my nose. I never want to try that again!” She isn’t alone in that experience. In fact, as soon as the vapor leaves the e-cigarette and begins its journey into the body… coughing, difficulty, coughing , difficulty breathing, fever, nausea and vomiting can ensue. While your throat may feel like it’s burning and agitated, let’s look even further, into what’s happening in the lungs.
Breathe In, Cough Out?
Healthy developing lungs do not like metal particles and harsh chemicals. Among the chemicals found in vapes are:
- Diacetyl: a chemical added to food to enhance flavors. Damages small airways in the lungs which results in “popcorn lung,” a disease that causes coughing, shortness of breath and difficulty breathing.
- Formaldehyde: A toxic chemical which can cause lung and brain illness.
- Acrolein: A herbicide primarily used to kill weeds.
- Benzene: Found in car exhaust.
- Nicotine: Highly addictive substance found in cigarettes. Affects brain development and lung health.
These are not ALL the chemicals found in vape oils. There are nearly 2,000 different chemicals found in vape juice. After reading a list of five chemicals and their function, do you think the other 1,995 will be good for healthy lungs? It’s not just the lungs that are immediately affected, but the brain too. In particular, the developing adolescent brain!
Feed Me Their Brains – Zombies or Vape Companies?
Vape aerosol also affects the brain. Similarly to healthy developing lungs, a healthy developing brain does not like getting overloaded with harsh chemicals. A young brain is especially vulnerable to the effects of nicotine. Nicotine has been found to cause slow brain development in teens and affect memory, decision-making, concentration, self-control, and mood. The difficulty with self-control and decision making will follow into adulthood as well. Nicotine is also highly addictive. Teens who use vapes are three times more likely to begin using traditional cigarettes. Exposure to nicotine at an early age can also cause a higher likelihood of being addicted to other substances, such as cocaine or alcohol.
In a Nutshell
Regardless of how you have heard of vaping before, now you know the effects on the body. Contrary to what large, greedy vaping companies would want you to believe, vaping is NOT healthy for you. There are many great stress relievers and escapes out there: exercise, meditation, music, drawing, painting, and walking just to name a few! By avoiding the harmful effects of vaping on the body, we are choosing to prioritize our health. Choose to be the healthiest, happiest version of you and leave vapes in the dust.
E-cigarettes, Vaping & Lung Health – Pulmonary & Respiratory Care. Loma Linda University Health. (n.d.). Retrieved February 24, 2022, from https://lluh.org/services/lluh.org/…/e-cigarettes-vaping-lung-health
Gordon, L. P. (Ed.). (2019, September). Vaping: What you need to know (for teens) – nemours kidshealth. KidsHealth. Retrieved February 24, 2022, from https://kidshealth.org/en/teens/e-cigarettes.html#:~:text=Vaping%20puts%20nicotine%20into%20the,of%20addiction%20later%20in%20life