Avoid e-cigarettes, says CDC, as vaping illness outbreak continues

  • Thursday, October 10, 2019 1:53pm
  • Life

By MultiCare Health System, for the Reporter

E-cigarettes continue to capture headlines as the number of vaping-related respiratory illnesses and deaths throughout the United States increases.

As of Oct. 1, there have been more than 1,080 cases of vaping-related illnesses in 48 states and one territory – as well as 18 deaths – since the first cases were reported in April. The exact cause is unknown.

The illnesses typically start with symptoms of coughing, shortness of breath, fatigue, chest pains, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, and all patients involved have a history of using e-cigarette products, either with nicotine or THC, the psychoactive compound of cannabis.

E-cigarettes work by heating a liquid (sometimes called a “juice”) to produce vapor that’s then inhaled into the lungs. The liquid may contain nicotine or THC or CBD oils, among other substances and additives. Using an e-cigarette is referred to as vaping.

A recent study by the Mayo Clinic found that “toxic chemical fumes” may be causing the illnesses. The lung damage seen in the study resembles chemical burns. But research is still in the early stages and the specific substance causing the illnesses is unknown.

Public health officials, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) urge everyone to avoid purchasing or using e-cigarette products, especially those containing THC and those sold informally or “off the street,” until more is known about these illnesses.

If you have recently used vaping products and have any of the symptoms connected to this outbreak, see a health care provider right away.

Are e-cigarettes safe?

Health providers have been discouraging the use of nicotine e-cigarettes for some time because not enough is known about the long-term effects, says David Ricker, MD, medical director of pulmonary programs for Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital & Health Center.

“It’s useful to remember that it actually took decades for the medical establishment to recognize the adverse health effects of tobacco,” Dr. Ricker said. “E-cigarettes have only been in use for a bit over 10 years.”

Though e-cigarettes are touted as a safe alternative to cigarettes, they often still contain nicotine, an addictive compound found in traditional cigarettes, along with other dangerous chemicals such as benzene, formaldehyde, cadmium, lead and nickel.

“The harmful effects of vaping are extensive and include inhaling an addictive substance as well as harmful chemicals and carcinogens, an increased risk of smoking traditional cigarettes, normalization of smoking behaviors and the risk of poisoning through accidental ingestion or skin absorption,” Ricker said.

On top of this, many e-cigarette liquids are made in kid-friendly flavors such as pineapple and bubble gum, and use of e-cigarettes is prevalent among teens, with more than 1 in 4 high school students reporting vaping in the past month in the most recent government survey.

Gov. Jay Inslee, as well as lawmakers in many other states, have called for a ban on all flavored vape products.

MultiCare Health System is a not-for-profit health care organization with more than 18,000 employees, providers and volunteers.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@auburn-reporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.auburn-reporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in Life

The Washington State Heritage Apprenticeship Arts Program program celebrates and supports traditional arts. Courtesy photo
Two Auburn residents to work together as master artist-apprentice

Statewide program celebrates and supports traditional arts.

Three drive-in films set for Kent’s ShoWare Center Aug. 12-16

‘The Lion King,’ ‘Ghostbusters’ and ‘Gremlins’

Kent Hay, Homeless Outreach Program Administrator. Courtesy photo
Deep-dyed in criminal justice and social services, Kent Hay works with Auburn’s homeless

Auburn’s homeless coordinator comes with experience as a probation officer a case manager.

2020 Honda CR-V Hybrid. Courtesy photo
2020 Honda CR-V Hybrid | Car review

There’s a reason Honda’s CR-V has been America’s top-selling crossover vehicle over… Continue reading

2020 Ford Ranger SuperCrew Lariat. Courtesy photo
2020 Ford Ranger SuperCrew Lariat | Car review

Ford’s venerable compact Ranger pickup went away for a while. But it… Continue reading

Screenshot from the Auburn Valley Humane Society’s Facebook page.
Auburn Valley Humane Society’s online tool helps people find homes for pets

The number one reason people surrender their pets to an animal shelter… Continue reading

Washington State Fair cancelled

COVID-19 outbreak claims another event

Auburn Symphony Orchestra’s talented lineup includes, from left, Rodger Burnett, Jennifer Nelson, Mona Butler, Shannon Spicciati, Wendy Wilhelmi. COURTESY PHOTO
Celebrate the 4th of July with Auburn Symphony Orchestra

Auburn Symphony Orchestra Director Wesley Schulz has curated a selection of orchestral… Continue reading

Photos courtesy of Pacific Ballroom Dance
                                The Youth Premier Formation team performing the ballroom medley “Strength and Honor.”
Pacific Ballroom Dance to hold virtual concert June 20

“Mosaic,” a live-streamed ballroom concert, will be presented free through the Vimeo platform.

TLG Motion Pictures CEO Erik Bernard and TLG founder Courtney LeMarco on a set. Photo courtesy TLG Motion Pictures.
Local production company seeking film, TV pitches from young minority creatives

The Big Pitch competition, put on by TLG Motion Pictures (“Hoarders”), started about six months ago.

Auburn woman finds her calling in military aviation

Abigail Gooch is now on standby duty with the Washington National Guard.