The epidemic within a pandemic

Clare Lewis

   Vaping. A word that if used 20 years ago, would leave people confused, but is now one of the most common words in the current adolescent generation’s vocabulary. Vaping is the new cigarette; the new dangerous public health issue. It is especially common and threatening to teens who are still growing. It is an epidemic that is being fought daily by health professionals and doctors everywhere. That sentence may sound similar when talking about another health threat: COVID-19.

   Both are spreading like wildfire throughout the world. COVID-19 and vaping are already dangerous enough to the population’s health alone, but together they can brew a deadly mix. Covid is known for being respiratory-based and brutally attacking your lungs. 

   Teens and young adults that are vaping face a much higher risk of COVID-19 due to the prerequisite damage to their lungs due to the toxic chemicals used in vapes. Some of the harmful contents of an average e-cigarette are: diacetyl, carcinogens, acrolein, nicotine, and heavy metals like nickel, lead, and tin.

Photo courtesy of Medical News Today

   “Among young people who were tested for the virus that causes COVID-19, the research found that those who vaped were five to seven times more likely to be infected than those who did not use e-cigarettes,” reported Stanford Medicine.

   There are multiple tests being done to show the harmful links between vaping and the virus to discourage our teens from vaping. One of these research methods included a series of online surveys sent out to teens and young adults in the U.S. where they were asked about their use of e-cigarette products and if they had experienced any COVID-19 symptoms. Due to these tests, health authorities are starting to speculate that there are links between hospitalization rates and vaping amongst certain age groups. 

   Further research done to show the connection between the two issues revealed that vaping may cause EVALI, an acute respiratory illness usually characterized by coughing, shortness of breath and a disturbed breathing pattern. With a vaper’s lungs already susceptible to these weaknesses, the symptoms are only enhanced by adding the virus, thus making the outcome possibly fatal since the lungs will not be as strong as they initially would be to fight off the virus.

   Many apathetic teens brush this off as doctors and parents try to scare them into quitting vaping, but the harmful effects have been well researched and documented. The majority of users have started this habit out of the perception that it is trendy; however, when the hospital beds are filled with teens who did not listen to the warnings, they may find themselves regretting their decisions.