Asthma is a chronic disease, and asthmatics have long been advised against smoking cigarettes. This is because of asthma’s characteristic inflammation and constriction of the airways necessary for healthy breathing. And smoking exacerbates these issues due to the cocktail of toxic chemicals present in the smoke. But is vaping a safer alternative for asthmatic smokers?
In this post, we explore the connection between vaping and asthma. First, we’ll be looking into the way that vaping works. Then, we’ll explain how inhaled substances can affect the sensitive respiratory system.
The Mechanics of Vaping
Vaping is a term that refers to the inhalation of vapor from electronic cigarettes. An electronic cigarette differs from a conventional cigarette; a battery powers a heated coil inside a vaporizing chamber. When the user triggers the device, a liquid put inside the chamber turns to vapor.
The aerosol or vapor produced contains nicotine, flavoring agents, and a base composed of propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin. Overall, advertisers and manufacturers claim that vaping exposes the user to a much lesser quantity of chemicals than combustible tobacco. However, this alone does not mean that vaping is entirely safe compared to smoking cigarettes.
Some claim that vaping can be an effective solution for smoking cessation, along with other cessation aids like bupropion (Wellbutrin) and varenicline (Chantix).
Vaping and Asthma: The Increased Risks
Even if it is true that e-cigarette vapor contains much less toxic chemicals than cigarette smoke, e-liquid manufacturers are not required to disclose their ingredients. This means that you are not aware of what you’re putting into your lungs. Also, several ingredients pose significant harm and can contribute to asthma.
According to the U.S. Surgeon General, e-cigarette vapor contains heavy metals such as nickel, lead, manganese and tin that can cause long-term damage and harm to the user. Flavorings such as diacetyl used to impart creamy or buttery flavors can trigger lymphocytic inflammation characteristic of allergy-driven asthma. Vapes containing marijuana extracts such as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) may inflame the respiratory tract even more.
As vaping is studied in a medical context, a growing body of evidence suggests that it isn’t merely “harmless water vapor,” as advocates would propose. New evidence suggests that vaping changes the body’s immune response, allowing asthma to progress and worsen even in individuals that can otherwise control it.
The bottom line is that vaping is a new and relatively unstudied activity, and growing evidence suggests that it may contribute to asthma symptoms. Ultimately, inhaling foreign chemicals with no scientific evidence about their safety is not a good idea.
If you have asthma, it’s essential to consult a physician if you vape and notice symptoms of your condition worsening.
At the Northwest Cardiovascular Clinic in Houston, TX, we understand the value of empowerment through education. We listen to all of our patients and keep patients confident and comfortable through our high-quality care practices. If you have any questions or concerns, you can reach us at (281) 807-5253.
We look forward to hearing from you.