Most smokers are aware of at least one or more health dangers they face due to their nicotine addiction. When e- cigarettes entered the marketplace about a decade ago, they were promoted and accepted as a popular alternative for those desiring to quit smoking. Vaping was considered the safer, perhaps even healthier, option. The popularity of e-cigarettes was enhanced by the fact that individuals could “vape” in places where standard cigarettes were prohibited. In addition, these vaping devices could be used with various flavor options such as chocolate and bubblegum.
As it turns out, e-cigarettes are dangerous devices, and serious health consequences and illnesses have been connected to the practice of vaping. As of December 17, 2019, there have been 2,506 reported hospitalized cases of EVALI, which is the acronym for “e-cigarette or vaping product use associated lung injury.” Fifty-four people hospitalized with EVALI have died; at least three of those people were from Georgia.
What exactly is EVALI?
EVALI is the name the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) chose for all vaping-related illnesses. Because EVALI contains a multitude of illnesses, there can be a multitude of symptoms. It is most commonly associated with vaping THC (the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana), but e-cigarette users who vape nicotine products only can still develop these illnesses.
One significant difference, however, between a smoking-related illness and an EVALI is time. In contrast to diseases like lung cancer or emphysema, EVALI appears to set in quickly.
The other most significant difference is origin. Every doctor knows where a lifetime of smoking cigarettes or using chewing tobacco will lead. With EVALI, no one can identify the cause: “At this time, FDA and CDC have not identified the cause or causes of the lung injuries in these cases, and the only commonality among all cases is that patients report the use of e-cigarette, or vaping, products.”
The rate of hospitalization for EVALI patients, based on the most recent data available at the time, is 96%. Approximately 47% of patients end up in intensive care.
Signs and symptoms of EVALI
EVALI shares many symptoms with the flu – coughing, shortness of breath, fever, and gastrointestinal distress. If you or you loved one use vaping products and you think you are coming down with the flu, you should seek medical attention right away. In some cases, vape users are developing lipoid pneumonia, because they are inhaling the oils used in their vaping liquid. It coats the lungs and builds up, and leads to an inflammatory response.
Other health risks associated with vaping and e-cigarette use
Even if a person does not develop EVALI, there are still a number of risks associated with vaping.
Same addictive power as cigarettes
Vaping products contain nicotine, a highly addictive substance also found in regular cigarettes.
Nicotine assists in the release of epinephrine, otherwise referred to as dopamine and adrenaline. These substances produce a pleasurable feeling and cause the brain to crave more of that pleasure. Individuals who vape can also form an addiction to the act of vaping itself – the same type of addiction associated with the use of other tobacco products. This is especially dangerous for young people, who can develop nicotine toxicity from vaping too often.
Inhalation of chemicals and alternative substances
A common chemical used to flavor the vapors in an e-cigarette is diacetyl, a substance that is suspected of causing severe lung disease. Aerosols used in vaping also contain benzene, which consist of ultra-fine particles and heavy metals such as tin, nickel, and lead. Benzene is a substance found in car exhaust and contains particles that are transported by the aerosols into a person’s lungs.
Even chemicals considered harmless in a non-heated state can become toxic when heated to a certain degree. This, combined with the latest trend among young people to produce a larger vapor cloud – which requires excessively heating the liquid by direct contact with the heating oil – creates additional dangers.
If you or a loved one has suffered health consequences from the use of a vaping product in Georgia, the product liability attorneys at Harris Lowry Manton LLP are here to protect and pursue your right to compensation for your injuries. To set up a free case evaluation, call us today at 404.998.8847 in Atlanta, or 912.417.3774 in Savannah. Or, simply fill out our contact form.