Many teens suffer severe respiratory symptoms like bronchitis and shortness of breath after just a month of vaping, a study suggests.
Scientists from The Ohio State University and the Keck School of Medicine of Southern California analyzed four years of online survey data to examine the impact of e-cigarettes on the health of young adults.
Past 30-day vape users had an 81% increased risk of wheezing, 78% increased risk of shortness of breath and 50% increased risk of bronchitis symptoms compared to teens who had never used an e-cigarette.
Millions of children are hooked on e-cigarettes across the United States. Approximately 2.5 million middle and high school students were addicted to e-cigarettes at the end of 2022, an increase of 500,000, or 24%, from 2021. It’s the first increase since 2019.
Funded in part by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), it adds to a growing body of evidence that e-cigarette use is linked to severe respiratory symptoms.
In the survey, young people were asked if they had used e-cigarettes, cigarettes or cannabis in the last 30 days.
More than 2.5 million children in the US use e-cigarettes, an increase of half a million from last year and a reversal of the downward trends of recent years. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 2.55 million Americans in middle or high school admit to using the device in the past 30 days. That’s a jump of 500,000, or 24 percent, from 2021. It’s the first increase since the CDC began collecting annual data in 2019.
The researchers looked at more than 2,000 youth with an average age of 17.3 years from the Southern California Children’s Health Study.
In 2014, participants completed a survey about their respiratory symptoms and their use of e-cigarettes, cigarettes, and cannabis.
Those who had never tried the substances were classified as ‘never users’, while participants who had used the substances at least once in the last 30 days were classified as ‘users in the last 30 days’.
Vape users in the past 30 days had an 81 percent increased risk of wheezing after the researchers accounted for age, gender, race, and parental education.
Wheezing was defined as wheezing or hissing in the chest in the past year.
Users in the past 30 days also had a 78% higher risk of feeling short of breath and 50% more likely to have symptoms of bronchitis, or inflammation in the respiratory system that makes breathing difficult.
When the researchers accounted for teens who also used cigarettes and cannabis, in addition to secondhand exposure to any of the three substances, they found that the link was reduced.
Users in the past 30 days had a 41 percent increased risk of wheezing compared with never users if they also used or were exposed to secondhand cigarettes or cannabis.
Signs of bronchitis and shortness of breath remained significant, but Alayna Tackett, a pediatric psychologist and researcher at the Center for Tobacco Research, said: “Wheezing was no longer significantly related to respiratory symptoms associated with e-cigarette use when we controlled for joint use”. of cigarettes and cannabis.’
The study was observational, which means that the researchers cannot say that vaping was directly responsible for the increase. The survey data was also self-reported, meaning that participants could have incorrectly recorded their use.
According to a 2022 CDC survey, an estimated 14 percent of high school students and three percent of high school students used the devices regularly.
The report also found that 85 percent of those who reported regular use of the devices used flavored e-cigarettes.
Among users, 28 percent said they smoked their e-cigarettes every day. Just over 40 percent reported using it at least 20 or more of the last 30 days.