Is vaping dangerous?

Is vaping dangerous?

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Is vaping dangerous? What are the risks?

Authored by Dr Aifric Boylan on 29.09.2019
Medically Reviewed by Dr Richard Bennett
Last updated on 15.10.2019

What is vaping?

  • The use of e-cigarettes (electronic cigarettes) is commonly known as “vaping”.
  • Most e-cigarettes include a battery, a heating element, and a cartridge or refillable chamber that holds vaping liquid.
  • The type of liquid in e-cigarettes varies, and may include ingredients such as propylene glycol, liquid nicotine, vegetable glycerine, flavourings and distilled water.
  • When heated and vaporised, many other toxic substances may be formed in the vapour.

is vaping dangerous

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Is vaping a good way to quit smoking?

  • E-cigarettes are not approved as an aid to quit smoking in Australia.
  • There are quite a number of health and safety concerns regarding vaping, so it is best to speak to your local doctor or pharmacist for advice on how to quit smoking safely.

Is vaping bad for you?

Yes, vaping appears to pose several health risks. Vaping products may:

  • deliver unpredictable doses of nicotine (and may not be labelled accurately)
  • encourage people to take up smoking
  • be a poisoning risk, especially for children
  • leak (nicotine can be absorbed through the skin!)
  • contain unknown toxic chemicals not listed on the packaging- numerous unlisted chemicals can be released once the liquid is vaporised.
  • lack appropriate child safety measures- liquid nicotine refills for e-cigarettes are particularly dangerous to younger children who may be attracted by the colourful packaging and flavours. If even a small amount is swallowed accidentally, it can be life-threatening.
  • be unsafe during pregnancy.

Also, the batteries can overheat, catch fire, or explode!

What about recent deaths in the U.S relating to vaping?

  • In the past few months, cases of severe respiratory (lung) illness due to vaping have been reported in the U.S, with at least 12 deaths and many admissions to hospital.
  • Most of these cases of vaping-related illness or “vape lung” appear to have occurred in otherwise healthy young people.
  • It’s believed some sort of chemical exposure during vaping may be to blame. While no specific brand or device has been linked with the outbreak, it seems there may be a connection with vaping products that contain THC (a crystalline compound that is the main active ingredient of cannabis). However, this link is not entirely certain yet- more investigation is required.
  • Affected individuals have experienced symptoms including a cough, shortness of breath and tiredness. Some also experienced fever, vomiting and/or diarrhoea. Symptoms developed and in some cases worsened dramatically over a matter of days or weeks.
  • As a result of these events, the advice to the public has been to avoid vaping.

So, best to avoid vaping then?

  • Yes, due to the cases of “vape lung” in the US, and the ongoing uncertainty about the chemicals released during vaping and how they affect the lungs, it is best to avoid vaping altogether, particularly modified devices or “home brew” vaping liquids.

What should you do if a child swallows vaping liquid?

  • If you think a child or adult may have swallowed vaping fluid, don’t wait for symptoms to start- attend an emergency department urgently.
  • If the person is unconscious or not breathing, call Triple Zero (000) immediately and ask for an ambulance.
  • Once the ambulance is called, ring the Poisons Information Centre on 13 11 26.
  • You should not make a person vomit unless the Poisons Information Centre or a doctor tell you to do so.

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About the Author:

Aifric Boylan
Dr Aifric Boylan is an experienced GP based in Melbourne. She completed medical school at Trinity College Dublin, Ireland, and undertook specialist training as a General Practitioner. She has 10 years experience working in General Practice and currently works as a full time family doctor in Melbourne, with a special interest in women’s health and paediatrics. She is a medical writer, covering common health issues in General Practice, as well as publications and opinion pieces in the medical press.

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