Teens and vaping: Dangers and symptoms parents should know

Caring For Our Kids

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – The incident this week in which a Sequoyah High School student was flown to the hospital for a vaping-related medical emergency demonstrates the dangers of vaping and the alarming trend.

Dr. Ryan Redman, ER director with East Tennessee Children’s Hospital, stopped by the WATE 6 ON Your Side studios to talk more about vaping among teens.

According to Redman, since August, Children’s Hospital has reported three cases of patients with severe respiratory illnesses with a suspected connection to vaping to the state health department. Hospital officials say “suspected” because currently, there is no test to confirm vaping is the cause of an illness.

Vaping is suspected in cases where everything else is ruled out as the cause of a patient’s respiratory illness, and the patient admits to using e-cigarettes or vaping.

Symptoms of lung injury reported in these vaping-related cases include:

  • Cough, shortness of breath, or chest pain
  • Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
  • Fatigue, fever, or abdominal pain

These can come on suddenly or over a period of weeks or months. It can be very serious, requiring intensive, critical care.

Teens are using these devices, medical professionals believe, because they simply don’t think they are as addictive or dangerous as regular tobacco cigarettes – which is incorrect.

Nicotine is addictive no matter how it is delivered into your system; it is proven to damage the developing brain.

They also come in flavors which are attractive to kids, and the devices are easy to conceal in schools, many of them look like pens or thumb-drives.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has been pushing for FDA regulations on e-cigarettes and other “vaping” devices for several years – here’s why:

Redman said they know the vapor in most e-cigarettes contains nicotine and other unknown chemicals (Nicotine is an ingredient that must be disclosed). This vapor is highly addictive and damaging to the developing brain.

How much nicotine or other harmful chemicals has not been known because the specific contents of the vapor were proprietary – that is changing now that the FDA is looking at all ingredients of new products hitting the market.

E-liquid, with or without nicotine, can damage lung tissue when inhaled. Long term health consequences of use is unknown. E-cigarettes and other nicotine delivery devices contain batteries and liquid chemicals which, if swallowed, could cause serious health complications.

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