Unless you’ve been living under a literal rock you're familiar with the infamous Coronavirus that has turned the world on it’s back in less than a 5 month span. Everything is shut down, people are out of jobs, losing homes, some even lose their lives; in a nutshell, life as we know it is a hot blistering mess. COVID-19 has caused such mayhem, with the rise of unemployment and the uncertainty of normalcy people are reaching for any glimpse of happiness that they can find. More and more Americans are turning to vaping as a way to alleviate their stress, and with COVID-19 on the loose many feel that vaping is a safer alternative to smoking cigarettes, but is it? In early May news headlines in Los Angeles stated that vaping and smoking could amp up your chances of getting COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found that 20% of patients sick enough to be hospitalized are ages 20 to 44, and some health authorities are speculating whether there is a connection between this age group's hospitalization rate and the high rate of vaping among this same cohort. Imagine the shock of reading such an awful headline in the midst of firing up your vape. Could it be true? Let’s dig into the facts and see if it's safe to vape during COVID-19.
What is Vaping?
First, what is vaping? Vaping is inhaling e-liquid with various nicotine strengths through a device that emulates cigarette smoking. According to kids health, “Vaping is inhaling vapor created by an electronic cigarette or other vaping device”. E-cigarettes usually have cartridges filled with a liquid that usually contains nicotine, flavorings,and chemicals. The liquid is heated into a vapor, which the person inhales.
What Organs are Damaged by Covid-19?
Since the Coronavirus is a virus that attacks the lungs, many experts feel that it is not smart to put your lungs at risk by smoking or vaping a known harmful substance such as nicotine. WebMD states, COVID-19 is a disease that can cause what doctors call a respiratory tract infection. It can affect your upper respiratory tract (sinuses, nose, and throat) or lower respiratory tract (windpipe and lungs). When you vape, the chemicals hit your lungs and may cause you to cough, consistent coughs may weaken your lungs and make you more susceptible to getting the virus.
What Are Some of the Lung Conditions That are Caused by Vaping?
As claimed by health matters Vaping can cause EVALI (e-cigarette or vaping associated lung injury), a broad descriptor of acute respiratory illness. It generally can manifest with shortness of breath, cough, and rapid and shallow breathing. Studies evaluating the pathological changes in the lungs of people who vape have described acute inflammation, damage to the air sacs that are necessary for oxygen exchange, and focal spots of pneumonia. All these changes may induce a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)-like illness. I would expect that COVID-19 would amplify any of these changes.
Dr. Micheal Hall believes that, “ If vaping does damage the lungs, it’s likely due to contaminants that are breathed in along with vapor”. He also supports that a person with compromised lung lining would suffer a worse case of COVID-19.
Studies from the University of California's San Francisco indicate that vaping, like smoking, may also harm lung health. Whether it can lead to COVID-19 is still unknown, but emerging evidence suggests that exposure to aerosols from e-cigarettes harms the cells of the lung and diminishes the ability to respond to infection.
In these uncertain times people need something to hold on to with new restrictions being imposed everyday, the regulations of wearing a mask, it can all become so overwhelming, people need an escape, something to turn to. Vaping can’t be that bad, there’s got to be some benefits right? Although vaping can sometimes get a bad rap, it can actually help you. The year 2020 has felt like four years in one. With so much uncertainty and things changing swiftly everyday, it’s only natural that one might feel anxious. Vaping can help alleviate your anxiety and serve as an effective way to deal with stress. Vaping allows you to control the amount of nicotine you want to vape so you’re not ingesting so much.
According to Vaping 360, Since there's no combustion, tar or ash associated with vaping, switching to it from smoking enables the user to experience health benefits from being smoke-free. That means better oral hygiene, skin health, circulation, lung capacity and an improved sense of smell and taste.
Benefits of Switching from Smoking to Vaping
Vaping can save your lungs from harsh chemicals such as shredded tobacco that is linked to cancer. A new scientific journal article states, long-term smokers who switched to vaping were halfway towards achieving the vascular health of a non-smoker within a month, a study has found. Researchers from the University of Dundee, UK, said they discovered a “clear early benefit” in switching from smoking to vaping, in the largest clinical trial to date.
One thing is for certain, there is not enough evidence to conclude if vaping can be linked to the coronavirus. Dr. Baldassari says, "We are awaiting studies in COVID-19 patients to determine definitively whether smoking, vaping and/or other substance use are risk factors for complications from COVID-19 infection."
So what does one do, how can you protect yourself from COVID-19 without the fear that one puff of your vape will send COVID-19 looming in your direction. Winickoff says that even though there’s no study yet showing a link between vaping and coronavirus infections, everyone should be making an effort to quit.
The best that you can do is make sure that you use clean vaping devices don’t share your vape with anyone, and make sure that you are in a secluded area when you vape. You don’t want to risk endangering other people in an effort to get your fix. I would highly recommend using disposable devices that you can throw away after use. I would also suggest that you vape in moderation. Consistent vaping can wear your lungs out and weaken them, so try to limit your vaping to once a day if at all possible.