Contributed by- Dr. Snehal Singh
Are you considering e-cigs as an alternative to your regular cigarettes? Wait! Before you make this shift, it is best to know more about e-cigs than what is publicised. It is no doubt the latest fad, a new trend but not all that glitters is gold. Some feel that e-cigs are better than smoking, but the fact is that they too have health risks. Does this leave you wondering if e-cigarettes are harmful? Possibly yes; with many other health risks. Read on to know the truth about e-cigarettes.
What are e-cigarettes?
An e-cigarette is a small portable electronic device that has a container. It is a new way of smoking, also called vaping. It is filled with a liquid called e-liquid, which contains flavours and chemical substances; some also contain nicotine. When e-cigs are heated, the e-liquid gets heated and produces vapours. Inhaling the aerosol or vapours is vaping which is the way e-cigarettes are used.
Many people who wish to quit smoking, sometimes turn to e-cigs, while some do it by choice. E-cigs are meant to mimic the act of tobacco smoking. As you inhale the vapours or burning chemicals in the e-liquid, it gives a feel similar to smoking. However, e-cigs too contain harmful chemicals that can affect your health in many ways.
Although e-cigs are believed to be safer than tobacco cigarettes in conventional smoking, they too have some health risks. Though there is no smoke produced, some people are truly worried about the effects of vaping on lungs. There are mixed beliefs about vaping and needs more understanding.
What are the health risks of vaping?
As vaping involves inhaling vapours, many believe that it does not affect health and can be continued safely. But that’s not true. Several studies show that vaping too can cause health issues.
E-cigs with nicotine, contain comparatively lesser nicotine, but still, there is some in it. Nicotine, is already linked to various health problems and can also be addictive/ habit forming. There is a risk of teens and youth getting attracted to it for no reason. If regular vaping is encouraged, it can eventually lead people to actual tobacco smoking also.
Let us look at some health risks of vaping.
Gum Disease – Regular vaping can cause inflammation of the oral cavity, which affects your teeth and gums. Thus, it increases the risk of gum diseases and also puts your dental health at risk.
Lowered Immunity -The vapours used in vaping may affect the body cells and reduce your immunity. Lowered resistance increases the risk of infections, allergies and other health problems. If you have been vaping, get your immunity levels checked for any further deterioration.
Cough – Smoker’s cough is known to all, but a cough is not new to vaping also. When gases are inhaled, it causes irritation in the throat, which results in a cough. Continued vaping, can affect oxygen supply and increase the risk of bronchitis, allergic cough and infections too. It can cause phlegm, coughing, wheezing, difficulty in breathing and chest pain in some. For people who like vaping or have been smokers in the past, a checkup to measure the TLC levels is recommended. This helps to know the harm done to the body.
Lung Damage – Inhaled vapours of heated substances, result in the gases reaching the lungs. Regular vaping and repeated exposure to the gases can cause damage to the lung cells. It is possible that such lung damage can be difficult to repair, in certain cases. Hence, the effects of vaping on lungs can be equally scary just as normal smoking.
As the health risks of nicotine are known, many people believe that vaping without nicotine is a safer option. But again, that does not make it a healthier option. Several studies suggest that the health risks of vaping without nicotine too are worth considering.
Toxicity – E-cigs have a metal coil, which heats up the e-liquid. When the metal is used regularly or overheated, it can enters into the vapours, which you inhale, causing metal toxicity. Another risk of vaping is the possibility of dripping. Some people, to get a better puff, drip the e-liquid directly on the coil. This causes sudden overheating of the liquid, which produces a larger vapour spray. This can be harmful for the nose, throat and even eyes, if it comes in contact with the vapours. Due to overheating, even harmless substances in e-liquid, can become toxic and cause damage, making it important to check toxicity levels in the body.
Some people who are sensitive can experience allergies due to certain flavours or chemicals present in e-cigs. Some may also feel nauseated, dizzy or experience headaches after vaping. Indigestion, feeling of illness is also common in some.
Vaping is a fairly newer trend and still needs more research, which increases the chances of unknown side effects too.
Can e-cigs cause lung cancer?
It is known that tobacco smoking can cause lung cancer. But when it comes to e-cigs you may expect something else. However, some studies suggest that e-cigs (even those without nicotine) can trigger cell growth and increase the risk of cancer. This indicates that cancer too could be one of the health risks of vaping without nicotine. It can be more harmful for the mouth and the lungs.
However, it is important to know that the cancer risk depends on various factors and may even vary with different brands of e-cigs. The chemicals used in it, the way e-cigs are heated, the duration of use, etc. may play an important role. Given the fact that the present day studies are still in the nascent stage, it is best to avoid things that are potentially harmful.
After knowing the health risks of e-cigs, you would not want to try that either. For those who wish to quit smoking, it is best to follow medical advice. Say no to tobacco and addiction in any form. Take charge of your health; avoid addition of any kind. Find better ways to manage stress and stay healthy.
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