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Health & Wellness: Looking at the long-term effects of e-cigarettes

By Lindsey Certonio - Special to the Daily Herald | Jan 24, 2024

Rebecca Blackwell, Associated Press

An employee displays some of the varieties of disposable electronic cigarette devices manufactured by EB Design, formerly known as Elf Bar, at Vapes N Smoke in Pinecrest, Fla., Monday, June 26, 2023. Since 2020, the number of different e-cigarette devices for sale in the U.S. has exploded to more than 9,000, a nearly three-fold increase driven almost entirely by a wave of disposable vapes from China.

Did you know that 1 in 20 Americans has fallen victim to vaping? It comes as no surprise that so many have reached for it believing it’s a healthier option, especially with its persuasive marketing describing e-cigarettes as being safer than cigarettes. However, e-cigarettes raise several risks and can cause serious consequences.

Being informed about the dangers of e-cigarettes might make you think twice about picking up or continuing the habit. The use of e-cigarettes has been known to cause nicotine addiction, mental health problems and damage to blood vessels and lungs.

Nicotine addiction

It’s common to get an e-cigarette that contains 10 to 20 milligrams of nicotine. As dopamine is released into your brain when nicotine is used, it can become very addicting, similar to alcohol and other drugs. This will make your chances of wanting to put down your vape pen or e-cigarette increasingly lower, amplifying the likelihood of developing an awful side effect that comes along with inhaling harmful substances. Addiction is serious and can take over your life, causing you to spiral into a cycle of painful withdrawals and relapses.

Damaged blood vessels

Blood vessels play a huge role in maintaining good health. They are in charge of carrying blood to your organs and tissues. Without oxygenated blood being consistently brought to your organs and tissue, you would lack important nutrients. Blood vessels also remove waste products and carbon dioxide from your organs and tissues.

Unfortunately, using e-cigarettes can cause damage to the blood vessels. In a study supported by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, it was found that participants who used e-cigarettes and those who smoked exhibited a significantly greater decrease in nitric oxide production by the blood vessel cells than nonusers. Notably, the researchers found that blood from those who used e-cigarettes also caused more permeability in the blood vessel cells than the blood from both those who smoked cigarettes and nonusers. Blood from those that used e-cigarettes also caused a greater release of hydrogen peroxide by the blood vessel cells than the blood of the nonusers.

When these three things occur, it can lead to dysfunctional blood vessels.

Declined mental health

One in five Americans experiences a mental health issue. With that in mind, it’s hard to justify something that is known to have a direct link to mental health issues. As previously mentioned, nicotine can be very addicting, but it also contributes to mental illnesses. Nicotine that is vaped can negatively affect mood and attention span. When combined with disorders such as depression and ADHD, vaping can make it even more difficult to manage one’s daily tasks.

Lung injuries

Some 2,800 people were hospitalized in 2020 due to e-cigarette or vaping use-associated lung injury, or EVALI. Vaping causes ​​hazardous chemicals such as diacetyl, acrolein and formaldehyde to coat your lungs, causing inflammation. Additionally, diacetyl is the root of bronchiolitis obliterans, known as popcorn lung. This condition causes scarring and makes it hard to breathe. While there is no cure for popcorn lung at this time, you can take antibiotics and corticosteroids to help with the symptoms.

Using an e-cigarette may seem harmless at first, but it can quickly become an addiction. The more you use them, the more you open yourself up to mental health issues, dysfunctional blood vessels and lung injuries. If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction to vaping, you’re not alone, and there is always help available. You can call 1-800-662-HELP (4357) at any time for assistance with treatment referrals.

Lindsey Certonio is a project manager at Fullcast, a Silicon Slopes-based, end-to-end RevOps platform that allows companies to design, manage and track the performance of their revenue generating teams.


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