Vaping illness: Sanford Health warns against e-cigarettes

Vaping linked to 530 cases of severe lung illness and seven deaths nationwide

Teen girl with sunglasses uses an e-cigarette device.

No amount of smoking or vaping is safe, Sanford Health is warning its patients.

The use of e-cigarettes, also known as vaping, has been linked to 530 cases of severe lung illness and seven deaths nationwide. Sanford Health chief medical officer Allison Suttle, M.D., asked primary care providers on Wednesday to reach out to their patients who are e-cigarette smokers and urge them to quit.

E-cigarettes are devices that deliver an aerosol to the user by heating a liquid that usually contains nicotine, flavorings, and other chemicals. E-cigarettes also can be used to deliver marijuana or other substances.

Vaping’s health impact

The multi-state outbreak of vaping illness is under investigation. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention joins the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, state and local health departments and other clinical and public health partners in the investigation.

Symptoms of a vaping illness could include:

  • Cough, shortness of breath, chest pain
  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
  • Fatigue, fever, weight loss

While this investigation is ongoing and has not identified a cause, all reported cases have a history of using e-cigarette products — devices, liquids, refill pods and/or cartridges. No specific substance or e-cigarette product is linked to all cases.

A CDC study from February stated that about 4.9 million middle and high school students were vaping in 2018, up from 3.6 million the year before. When the study was released, CDC Director Robert R. Redfield said the country must help keep kids safe from a preventable health risk.

Government vaping bans

President Trump has declared his intent to ban non-tobacco-flavored e-cigarettes. San Francisco has already banned this, and a ban is set to go into effect in Michigan in a few weeks.

In South Dakota, where Sanford Health is based, a statewide ban on using e-cigarettes in public began in July. On Sept. 9, the South Dakota Department of Health announced two reported cases of vaping-related illness in residents ages 20-24.

What to do about vaping illness

Anyone who uses an e-cigarette or vaping product should not buy these products off the street, and should not modify or add any substances to these products that are not intended by the manufacturer, the CDC said. Other recommendations:

  • Youth and young adults should not use e-cigarette products.
  • Women who are pregnant should not use e-cigarette products.
  • Adults who do not currently use tobacco products should not start using e-cigarette products.

Sanford Health encourages patients to call and get help quitting smoking and vaping.

Call your state’s quit line at (800) QUIT-NOW (800-784-8669). For deaf and hard of hearing callers, relay 711.

Talk to your primary care doctor or call the state quit line to get help with nicotine addiction. Sanford Health can help you find counseling, medication and other evidence-based practices to quit smoking or using e-cigarettes.

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Posted In Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, News

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