Teens and Vaping: What Parents Need to Know

E-cigarettes — especially flavored vaping products — are becoming more popular among teens.

Vaping can cause serious health issues in teens, including e-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injury (EVALI), and impaired brain development. Vaping can also put teens at an increased risk of developing other addictions too.

Parents can talk with their kids about the dangers of vaping in a non-judgmental way. Pediatricians can also help by providing parents and teens with information and resources.

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What You Need to Know About Vaping-Associated Lung Injury

Vaping-associated lung injury is a condition characterized by lung inflammation and damage that can lead to respiratory failure and death. Symptoms include shortness of breath, cough, and chest pain, as well as fatigue, fever, and weight loss. Many patients report gastrointestinal symptoms too.

Healthcare experts are urging people to avoid vaping because the exact cause of vaping-associated lung injury is unknown.

People who are using vaping products — especially young people, who have been most frequently affected by the condition — should closely monitor their health and seek immediate medical care if they develop symptoms.

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Teens falling victim to the Juul effect

“We were seeing a real drop-off in youth smoking, but now we’re seeing an increase,” says Dr. Beth Ebel, a UW Medicine pediatrician and researcher with the Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center. Among teens as young as middle-school age, vaping with products that have nicotine “predisposes you to cigarette smoking later on.”

Nicotine, once derived from tobacco plants to kill insects, works by altering the nervous system. “We’ve used it, refined it, concentrated it, and now we have a pure form of one of the most addictive substances known,” Ebel says in downloadable video soundbites (2:22).

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