Cigarette manufacturers have been under fire for decades as they promote dangerous products that pose serious health risks. When vapes and e-cigarettes came along, many believed that these devices would provide a safer alternative, which has been anything but true.
In fact, there’s a name for the damage these products can cause in your lungs — e-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injury (EVALI).
Here at California Lung Associates, located in downtown Los Angeles, our team of highly qualified pulmonologists is seeing more cases of EVALI and we’re, understandably, concerned. Since education surrounding vapes and e-cigarettes is often misunderstood, we would like to take this opportunity to clear the air.
Here’s a brief look at EVALI and how we can help.
Defining vaping devices and e-cigarettes
The world of vapes and e-cigarettes can be confusing, so we thought we’d first break down the products. E-cigarettes are designed to deliver nicotine without having to light up a cigarette or use chewing tobacco.
Vaping products not only deliver nicotine, but marijuana as well. In fact, since the legalization of marijuana in California, hundreds, if not thousands, of vaping products have hit the market.
The problems surrounding lung injury due to vaping and e-cigarettes gets even more complicated as EVALI isn’t one disease, but a group of issues caused by using these devices, including:
- Damage to your alveoli (the air sacs in your lungs)
- Fibrinous pneumonitis (inflammation in your lungs)
Since EVALI isn’t one disease, there isn’t a single test that we can perform to determine whether you’ve developed the problem. Instead, we use advanced imaging and/or a bronchoscopy, along with a review of your vaping or e-cigarette history, to connect the dots.
What causes EVALI
Research is ongoing as to the exact mechanism that causes injury to your lungs, and there are a few potential culprits, including the:
- Humectants that create the vapor
- Flavoring ingredients
- Heating systems
- Toxic metals
- Additives, such as vitamin E, triglycerides, plant oils, petroleum distillates, and diluent terpenes
While we may not be able to pinpoint the direct cause of EVALI, the CDC reports that, as of last year, nearly 3,000 people in the United States have been hospitalized with EVALI, and there were 68 confirmed deaths.
It’s hard to say how we go about treating vaping- or e-cigarette-induced lung damage since EVALI can manifest itself in several ways. As pulmonologists, rest assured that we offer the most advanced treatments available to help you breathe easier. We also offer smoking cessation programs that apply to e-cigarettes.
The bottom line is that there’s mounting evidence that vaping and e-cigarettes can be very harmful to your lung health. If you’d like to learn more, please don’t hesitate to contact our office to set up a consultation.