As the use of e-cigarettes explodes, data is coming in and it's ugly. Young vapers are seeing doctors with complaints of bleeding mouths and throats and bloody lesions that won't heal. On March 2, I wrote an article called, To Vape or Not to Vape, which can be accessed by clicking on the blue font. Even a few months ago, we didn't know about these unintended consequences. Who knows what else we'll find in 10-15 years?
A team of researchers has begun investigating the reasons for these issues. They've learned that vapors inflame mouth cells in ways that likely promote gum disease. So, why is that a problem? Your gums will get inflamed and bleed and hurt and you won't eat right or brush and floss your teeth, the condition will get worse and then, your teeth will start falling out and you'll be really, really attractive. That's why.
One of the reasons that periodontists (a specialist in treating the supporting structures of teeth and the diseases that affect them) are such busy people is because periodontal problems are excruciatingly painful, keep you from eating and oh yeah, you lose your teeth!
Mouth sores are one thing. Periodontal disease is one thing. But, when you go inhaling hot chemicals into the lungs, you've got a whole other set of problems to worry about. It's called the "interactive effect". You know how one kid and one kid seems to make a whole lot more than two kids? That's it.
When I was in graduate school, I took a class called Analysis of Variance. Statistics. The professor, Dr. DuCette, had a great way of "anchoring" the concepts into meaningful experiences. For example, he said, "If you smoke, you can have this list of diseases. If you drink alcohol excessively, you can have this list of diseases. But, if you smoke and drink, we're not really sure what you're going to come down with because we're not sure about the interaction of these toxins on your health". He's right and here we are...again, wondering what the interaction of this stuff is going to be on our health.
Here's another variable...The hotter the liquid gets, the more it impacts the cells. Now, kids are increasing the heat by doing something called "dripping". Dripping involves taking the outside cover off the e-cig and using an eyedropper to "drip" the liquid directly onto the heating coil. This strategy gives the vaper the biggest nicotine hit from each puff. There's a bigger vapor clould and a "bigger throat hit".
Some kids have developed attachments called "atomizers" to create the same effect as dripping.
The risk for disease and injury is increased. Once again, we have no idea "what" this is going to do to their mouths, throats and lungs.
Let's talk about this new vaping dynamic of slow-healing wounds. I'm going to list the process so you can picture it in your mind...ready?
1. Fibroblasts are special cells that repair damaged or injured tissue of major organs so they're like, really important. They also make up the super strong connective tissue in your body that allows your organs to stay in place, otherwise, they'd be down around your belly button.
2. If an injury occurs, the fibroblasts run to the rescue just as first responders do.
3. The fibroblasts at the edges of the wound begin to shrink which causes the wound to close up. This skin contraction uses a lot of energy, but because the fibroblasts are powered by cellular engines called mitochondria, they've got what they need to get the job done.
OK, that's how it's supposed to work. But, when lung fibroblasts were exposed to a wound in a laboratory condition, they didn't close up the cut because the mitochondria had been destroyed. They had no power to do their job.
It's common knowledge that air pollution contributes significantly to asthma and bronchitis and frankly, a lot of other bad stuff that can happen to your lungs.
A research study found that the kids who had vaped in the past 30 days were twice as lucky to have chronic bronchitis as those who had never vaped. Chronic bronchitis is defined as persistently bringing up mucus when coughing for three straight months. Lovely. Even those kids who had vaped previously, but not in the past 30 days also had chronic bronchitis.
Vapers have smoker's cough. Cigarette smokers with chronic bronchitis go on to develop permanent lung damage. Will vapers follow the same route?
Benzene has also been found. Benzene causes cancer and is found in cigarette smoke, but in vaping products, it is at a much higher concentration than in traditional cigarettes.
Just do the best you can, Claudia
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