No One Knows Much About Vaping Sickness, Except That It’s Spreading
A mysterious vaping-related lung ailment has been sweeping the United States for the last two months, and it just claimed its first life last week in Illinois. The adult, whose name, age, sex, and hometown have not been released, was hospitalized with severe respiratory illness after having recently vaped, revealed the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) on Friday in a statement.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are now 193 potential cases of a peculiar vaping-related sickness across 22 states, all reported since June 28.
The symptoms of this illness include coughing, difficulty breathing, fatigue, and chest pain; some cases also involve vomiting and diarrhea. The CDC is yet to find a cause of this illness. The only thing officials know is that all the patients vaped nicotine or marijuana-related products before experiencing symptoms and that the cause is not an infectious disease. No single vaping device or product has been found to connect the cases either.
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What’s most confusing about this sickness is that e-cigarettes and vapes have been around for years, so why are so many people suddenly experiencing vaping-related health issues, over just 60 days? No one knows yet.
What we do know is this: “The severity of illness people are experiencing is alarming and we must get the word out that using e-cigarettes and vaping can be dangerous,” said IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike in the statement.
It is crucial to disseminate this advisory considering the exponential growth rate of vaping, especially among adolescents and young adults. From 70 lakh users in 2011, the number of vapers had increased to 3.5 crores in 2016 globally, according to The Economic Times. In 2017, the market research firm Euromonitor International valued India’s vaping market at around $15.6 million and projected it to grow 60% annually until 2022. Vaping might be less harmful than smoking cigarettes in the long run and be especially beneficial for those aiming to quit smoking, but science is yet to study vaping products enough to completely understand their benefits and risks — the latter now possibly includes death.