Vaping has been under scrutiny for the past few days after being connected to the severe lung disease outbreak across several states among users of electronic cigarettes and public health officials say it’s too soon to point to a cause.
Now, there has been some unclear information out there this crisis,
So here’s what we know so far
According to the latest report from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there have been seven confirmed deaths in six states, a total of 530 confirmed and probable cases have been identified in 38 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
In a Thursday press briefing, the CDC reported that several states continue to see new cases. “It is an ongoing outbreak,” said Dr. Anne Schuchat, the CDC’s principal deputy director.
In response to the sudden deaths and the surge among teenagers smoking e-cigarettes, two states (New York and Michigan) have already banned all flavored e-cigarettes other than menthol.
New York was the first to institute the ban based on some emergency rules and Michigan followed suit.
While the deaths and rise in youth vaping are concerning, experts said the ardor surrounding nicotine devices might be misplaced.
The new bans don’t capture the nuances between the cases involving people who smoked nicotine devices compared with those who vaped tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) the primary active ingredient in marijuana.
So what seems to be causing the illness?
Since some of the cases of the lung illness occurred among smokers who used only nicotine e-cigarettes, the majority of cases were among smokers who used THC vape products, while other e-cigarette smokers with lung infections used both nicotine and THC devices.
The CDC suspects “chemical exposure,” but experts are still to identify a specific agent as the culprit. There is no definitive link to any brand of device, flavor, ingredient or substance.
The outbreak has affected users of both nicotine and THC containing products, but it is more common among THC vapers than users who reported using only nicotine products.
However, since a large number of the patients reported using a combination of nicotine products with CBD or THC products, some researchers are now looking into whether the illness may be a result of mixing substances.
Moreover, in all confirmed cases, patients reported vaping within 90 days of developing symptoms, and the majority of the patients had vaped within a week of symptom onset.
What are the symptoms?
This situation is new with no clear cut batch of symptoms but patients report experiencing significant breathing difficulties, rapid onset of coughing, and weight loss. Other symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
In general, symptoms appear over the course of a few days but can take as long as a few weeks to arise.
Most of the patients have been hospitalized, and though their symptoms overlap, reports say some diagnoses have included lipoid pneumonia (which can occur when oil enters the lungs), acute eosinophilic pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome.
What is the solution to this crisis?
First and foremost, the CDC is working closely with affected states to understand the nature of the illness and the extent of its impact.
And while the CDC investigates this multi-state outbreak, it says vapers who are concerned about lung disease related to vaping should “consider refraining from using e-cigarettes or vaping products”.
Even though many experts suspect this outbreak does not appear to be associated with legally-sold e-cigarettes, but with illicit and sometimes counterfeit THC vaping cartridges
The CDC’s recommends people should not buy THC or cannabinoid vaping products off the street. Also, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) wants smokers to stop vaping THC oil products entirely.
While the spike in vaping illnesses has garnered the attention of politicians’ and health officials’ this month, and a dip in the popularity of vaping, to most vapers vaping is still the best alternative to smoking tobacco product.
Most importantly, there’s still a lot that we and the disease detectives don’t know yet.
No one can say for sure exactly what component, compound, substance, or chemical in the THC vape carts is causing the illnesses or whether there is more than one chemical or product involved.
Note that even though this outbreak affects many, you are safe to travel to those states.
That being said, to stay safe either you follow the CDC’s advice and abstain from e-cigs or endeavor to buy vape carts from legit vendors.