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E-cigarettes, vapes, vape or hookah pens, e-pipes and other vaping products are battery-powered devices that allow users to inhale, or vape, aerosolized liquid (e-juice). E-cigarettes are available in both fruit and candy flavored products that appeal to youth. They are also available for purchase online, making it easier than ever before to take up smoking.

E-cigarettes recently surpassed conventional cigarettes as the most commonly used tobacco product among youth, so it is critical that parents understand the potential risks of using them and communicate these risks to your kids.

Health Risks Related to Vaping

Nearly all e-cigarettes contain nicotine. Nicotine is highly addictive and can harm the developing adolescent brain. As the brain is still developing until about age 25, youth exposure to nicotine can lead to addiction and disrupt attention and learning. No amount of nicotine is safe for youth.

Recent evidence suggests that, compared to youth who have never used them, youth who have tried e-cigarettes are much more likely to start smoking in the future. Thirty-seven percent of e-cigarette users also use conventional cigarettes, increasing their risk for nicotine addiction.

E-liquids not only contain nicotine, but other chemicals that are not proven safe to breathe. When e-liquids are heated, the aerosol or vapor has been shown to contain heavy metals, ultra-fine particles and cancer-causing chemicals.

These can be dangerous not only for the user, but others around them. Exposure to aerosol may also be a trigger for kids with breathing problems, such as asthma, increasing their risk of severe asthma attacks.

Other short-term effects of vaping include:

  • Bad breath
  • Cavities

Serious Health Risks

A more serious effect of vaping is e-cigarette, or vaping, product use associated lung injury, which is an acute lung disorder associated with chemical exposure. More than 1,600 possible cases have arisen in the U.S. alone, and a few deaths have been reported, with many previously healthy young people developing lung failure and requiring placement on mechanical ventilation (life support).

Symptoms of this disease include:

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea

If you haven’t already, it’s crucial for parents to communicate the dangers of vaping and e-cigarettes to youth.

Expert Lung Team

At the Children’s Pulmonary Institute at MemorialCare Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach, we’re dedicated to diagnosing and treating children and young adults with a wide range of conditions affecting the lungs and respiratory system, including severe pulmonary disease.

Unique for a children’s hospital, we have a dedicated pulmonary wing in the hospital should a child’s condition require constant monitoring. Our pulmonary wing offers an environment where patients can be with other children going through similar experiences and see a care team, who is specially trained in treating illnesses affecting the lungs.

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