Dangers of Vaping and COVID-19
As the world battles with the devastating effects of COVID-19 (coronavirus), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has identified several groups that are at a higher risk for contracting the virus. The focus for at-risk individuals began with the elderly and severely ill, but there is a growing concern for those who smoke and vape. The CDC says those who smoke, no matter the age, fall into a group at higher risk for severe illness due to an underlying medical condition. Understanding the dangers of vaping and COVID-19 should encourage you to think twice before continuing this habit.
Dangers of Vaping
Vaping is the act of inhaling and exhaling aerosol. The term “vaping” is used because e-cigarettes do not produce tobacco smoke. However, the aerosol, often mistaken for water vapor, actually consists of fine particles. Many of these particles often contain varying amounts of toxic chemicals that have been linked to heart and respiratory diseases and cancer. These toxic chemicals also include nicotine, marijuana, and other potentially harmful substances. Not only is nicotine harmful in the developing adolescent brain, but it is an addictive substance. Opening the door to any addiction can drive other undesirable behaviors.
It has been reported that nearly 200 e-cigarette users have developed severe lung disease in 22 states. Although experts aren’t sure if vaping actually causes lung problems, they believe the most likely culprit is a contaminant, not an infectious agent. Possibilities include chemical irritation or allergic/immune reactions to various chemicals or other substances in the inhaled vapors. Typically, symptoms start gradually, with shortness of breath and/or chest pain before more severe breathing difficulty begins. The FDA, CDC, and other state health officials continue to investigate these cases to determine the specific causes.
How Vaping and COVID-19 Attack your Body
The dangers of vaping, specifically during the COVID-19 pandemic, stem from how the quickly-spreading virus attacks your body. The coronavirus enters your body through the mouth, nose, or eyes and then attaches itself to and kills some of your healthy cells. The disease is particularly dangerous for those who vape because the lungs of smokers are already compromised and potentially damaged.
The virus starts in your respiratory tract and attacks the lungs. COVID-19 makes it hard to breathe, especially for those with underlying health challenges. Significant lung problems have been linked to vaping. Dealing with lung and respiratory problems makes you more susceptible to COVID-19.
“Because it attacks the lungs, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 could be an especially serious threat to those who smoke tobacco or marijuana or who vape,” confirms  Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Other risks for people with substance use disorders include decreased access to health care, housing insecurity, and a greater likelihood for incarceration.” While personal health is the greatest risk for those who vape, substance use disorder can create other challenges, as described by Dr. Volkow.
Stanton Glantz, a professor of medicine and director of the Center for Tobacco Research Control & Education at the University of California, San Francisco, states, “Vaping affects your lungs at every level. It affects the immune function in your nasal cavity by affecting cilia, which push foreign things out…the ability of your upper airways to clear viruses is comprised.”
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Addiction Recovery Centers Respond to COVID-19
Nearly all states, including Arizona, have implemented a shelter-in-place order to help immobilize the spread of the coronavirus. Governor Doug Ducey asks all residents “to maintain healthy habits and find alternative ways to stay connected with friends and loved ones while spending time at home.” For those battling a vaping dependency or other substance use disorder, utilizing this time for recovery can help guard against further physical and mental health risks as well as reduce your likelihood of obtaining COVID-19.
At Soul Surgery Rehab, our specialists know dependency doesn’t take a break during a global health crisis. Our services are essential and remain available to those who want to pursue addiction recovery during the quarantine. The Soul Surgery team is taking extra precautions to protect against COVID-19 exposure and ensure our facilities are sterile during these uncertain times.
In addition to affecting those with compromised lung and immune systems, COVID-19 puts those with mental health challenges at an increased risk for negative behavior. To learn more about how the Soul Surgery team can help, contact our experienced team of drug addiction specialists and counselors today.
Battling dependency is hard enough. But when you realize substance use puts you more at risk for contracting COVID-19, reaching out for help should take priority.