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Patient educator warns of vaping dangers - Odessa American: News

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Patient educator warns of vaping dangers

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Posted: Friday, November 15, 2019 5:14 pm

Odessa has seen one possible lung injury from vaping, Medical Center Hospital cardiopulmonary patient educator Sandra Reyes is spreading the word about the dangers of the habit.

Reyes notes that smoking is dangerous, as well.

“Here in Medical Center Hospital, I think that we’ve had one (vaping illness),” Reyes said.

The Texas Department of State Health Services website said it has identified 165 cases of severe lung disease in people who report vaping before developing symptoms, including one death.

“State health officials are gathering more information about 13 other possible cases to determine whether they are consistent with the symptoms and substance use seen in cases in Texas and 48 other states. Patients range in age from 13 to 75 years old, with a median age of 22 years. About one-quarter of the people affected in Texas are minors. Three-quarters are male, and nine in 10 report vaping THC or marijuana, possibly in conjunction with other substances. Almost all were hospitalized with many requiring intensive care,” the site said.

In Odessa, Reyes said, smoking and vaping are prevalent.

The age to obtain tobacco in Texas was increased from 18 to 21, but Reyes said she hasn’t seen a decrease. There are still “a bunch” of kids vaping.

“They look like pens; they look like USB ports. They’re just very easy to bring into the school and hide them,” Reyes said.

There have been reports nationally of Vitamin E oil in marijuana vaping products have been linked to the vaping lung injuries and deaths.

“That’s the problem with the vaping devices is that they can be manipulated,” Reyes said.

Other chemicals can be put into the vaping devices.

“… I think that’s why they’re having the rash of illnesses right now is because those products, they come off the streets. They’re not being regulated. It’s very easy, like I said, to manipulate, put stuff into them that originally wasn’t there. I don’t think those devices are kept clean, whereas a cigarette, it burns and you throw it away. These devices are being re-used and passed,” Reyes said.

“When you really think about that aspect of things, it gets gross so when you’re using a syringe to fill another nicotine pod you’re introducing contaminants and then” you’re breathing it in.

She said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention hasn’t been able to pinpoint what is causing the outbreak of vaping illnesses.

Reyes said there is no difference between smoking and vaping. A cigarette contains 7,000 chemic and vaping contains 300 or 400, but both have nicotine.

The vaping devices may not have tobacco, but it holds the substance that contains the nicotine, usually a lipid, or oil-based substance.

Your lungs are “full of moisture” and you’re breathing in an oil-based substance.

“… Oil don’t mix and you’re inhaling that into your lungs,” so you’re going to damage them, Reyes said.

Also, the devices aren’t being cleaned. They’re being used repeatedly.

Hookahs, she said, are another form of e-cigarette.

“What it is you have the heating element. You have the little disk that goes on to the top of it. They use water, maybe not so much the oil base but it’s water. Unfortunately, if you have a hookah or if you go into these hookah bars they’re not regulated on how to be disinfected or cleaned …so you’re still running into the same problem. You’re breathing in and if you’re breathing back into it you’re contaminating all that and most of the bars what they do is use the mouthpiece as a single customer use but the rest of it is not disinfected and it’s water down in there so when you’re breathing that anything that’s contaminated is just sitting down there,” Reyes said.

“Mold, if they’re not kept clean, if they’re not dried out, mold starts to grow … and what you’re doing is you’re inhaling that,” she said.

Also, if you sit in front of a hookah for an hour, Reyes said it’s the equivalent of smoking almost 100 cigarettes.

“That’s the problem. People don’t realize what they’re inhaling …,” she said.

The flavoring in e-cigarettes, vaping and hookahs appeals to youngsters.

“Unfortunately, they don’t realize the addiction part of the nicotine so they just think that they’re getting this flavoring and they don’t understand that they’re getting the nicotine on top of it. If they’re not careful, before you know it they’re addicted to that nicotine and it doesn’t take very long for them to get addicted so then before you know it they have to have it. That’s the really bad part about e-cigarettes is these kids are doing it for the flavoring. They get into the nicotine addiction, and as they grow older,” they will likely move on to cigarettes, Reyes said.

Originally, e-cigarettes were promoted to help older adults quit cigarettes.

“It’s kind of worked backwards for the young kids.

Medical Center doesn’t promote e-cigarettes to quit. We want to use the safest recommendations which are going to be your Chantix, your nicotine patch, the lozenge, the gum,” Reyes said.

With smoking, she said, you introduce things into your lungs that aren’t supposed to be there.

“What happens is you start causing an inflammation process …,” Reyes said.

If you’re an asthmatic that can lead into asthma attack and smoking even e-cigarettes can cause COPD, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

“That’s a progressive disease,” Reyes said. “There’s no cure for that.”

She said smoking is the No. 1 cause of COPD, but it’s not the only one. It can also cause certain kinds of severe pneumonia.

Cigarettes also burn so hot that you burn your airway.

“There’s little hairs you have in your nose, your mouth, the back of your throat that’s there to help filter dust … When you’re smoking a cigarette, it kind of kills all that so anytime you breathe you’re just going to take everything down into your lungs so you’ve already damaged the process that’s supposed to keep your lungs healthy,” Reyes said.

If you stop smoking, about 14 to 15 percent of your lung function can come back.

Education, she said, is going to be key to informing young people how bad smoking, vaping and e-cigarettes are for them.

If you don’t know where your vaping device is coming from, don’t use it or buy it.

“The cleanliness of that whole device is probably the most important aspect right now …,” Reyes said.

Laura Mathew, director of nursing services for Ector County ISD, said incidents of vaping have been sporadic.

“They’re probably vaping. It hasn’t really been reported to me. I don’t think they’re doing it at school. They’re probably doing it, obviously, after school, in social situations,” Mathew said.

Odessa, TX

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