Every day the numbers grow: as of today, 6 deaths, over 450 related illness. Yet even these statistics don’t seem to deter kids from vaping. In fact, those stats are even more staggering.
Last year- before vaping became as widespread as it is today- the surgeon general estimated that 1 in 5 high schoolers and 1 in 20 junior high students regularly vaped.
Even more alarming is their ability to do so unnoticed right in front of us.
For products supposedly not marketed to teens, vape pens and e-cigarettes can remarkably resemble flash drives, pencils, or reusable straws.
And, since they don’t emit the telltale smell of cigarette smoke, the sugary-sweet scent is easily mistaken for candy.
What’s the problem with kids vaping?
For starters, there is a general misconception that the vapor is merely water and flavoring. However, the nicotine in each “pod” contains essentially the equivalent of an entire pack of cigarettes. Now add in the VOC’s (volatile organic compounds), heavy metal toxins, and other fine particles that are easily inhaled into the lungs.
Additionally, the brain is still developing until approximately age 25. During growth, addiction can take hold much faster and stronger… one reason why medical intervention may be necessary for teens to quit. Likewise, use of nicotine during the brain’s developmental stage can also impair learning, focus, and impact mental health.
So, what signs can we look for to determine if our kids might be vaping? Often times more than one symptom will present.
Bloodshot Eyes. Though THC is not always present, frequent bloodshot eyes is one of the few physical indicators.
Irritability. This one is tricky since we’re dealing with teenagers. Watch for mood swings, restlessness, change in sleep patterns, or anxiety beyond their norm.
Excessive thirst. Dry mouth is a common side effect of vaping. Unordinary excessive thirst and dehydration are a warning signs.
Chronic cough. Much like a smoker, vaping often leads to a chronic cough without other signs of illness or allergies.
While there are known effects of vaping decreasing immunity and negatively impacting the cardiac, reproductive, and respiratory systems, keep in mind that this is still a new phenomenon. Long term health effects- and the effect on future growth- are still unknown.
Open lines of communication are essential, but kids aren’t always as forthcoming as we’d like. If you recognize severe reactions in your child- difficulty breathing, wheezing, lethargy, or chest pain, seek medical attention immediately.