What is Vaping?

V

aping refers to inhaling and exhaling aerosolized particles from an e-cigarette. An e-cigarette is an electronic device filled with a nicotine-based liquid that is vaporized when the device is used.

Vaping was initially hailed as an important innovation. It was believed smokers could use e-cigarettes as an alternative to tobacco. This would reduce exposure to nicotine, tar, and other hazardous substances.

What’s more, many smokers considered vaping soothing, giving them “something to do with their hands” and a way to react in stressful situations where they would usually smoke. Some people succeeded in using vaping as a stepping stone to quit smoking.

Over the last few months, vaping has become associated with a complex lung disorder. E-cigarette enthusiasts may be at risk of permanent lung damage.

What Conditions is Vaping Associated With?

The unique condition associated with vaping is referred by the new medical acronym EVALI.

It stands for E-Cigarette or Vaping Associated Lung Injury.

As of October 22, 2019, 34 known deaths were associated with EVALI. The median age of victims was 45 and 59% of them were men.

In total, nearly 2,300 cases of EVALI were reported to the CDC by November 20, 2019. All 50 states have been affected except Alaska.

Samples of lung tissue taken from victims have tested positive for high amounts of vitamin E acetate, a toxin in some vaping products. Vitamin E acetate is believed to be safe when used in nutritional supplements or skincare products, but not when ingested.

Lung damage caused by EVALI can cause symptoms similar to pneumonia. Damage to the lungs makes it difficult for the body to take in oxygen and distribute it throughout the body.

EVALI is distinct from, but related to, bronchiolitis obliterans – also known as popcorn lung. This is an inflammatory condition that affects the tiniest airways within the lungs. Inflammation can lead to scarring that blocks airways, causing coughing and shortness of breath.

What Research Currently Exists Around Vaping?

The association between vaping and EVALI is already an established scientific fact. However, it is not yet clear exactly what risk factors contribute to the development of EVALI.

Current research focuses on finding a definitive answer for what chemicals or other factors may be responsible for EVALI. This will help the medical community understand why some e-cigarette enthusiasts are affected and others are not, paving the way for effective treatment.

Why Are Further Vaping Clinical Trials Important?

Vaping clinical trials will be essential to the long-term health and quality of life of those affected by EVALI or popcorn lung. Evidence of disease has been found in teens as well as elderly adults.

Unfortunately, there is no treatment capable of reversing the lung damage caused by EVALI. As with other pervasive lung disorders, such as COPD, therapies are likely to focus on preserving healthy lung function.

Current Vaping Clinical Trials

This is the current list of active vaping clinical trials on record with ClinicalTrials.gov.

Patients are advised to watch this space carefully, since new clinical resources for vaping health are being developed rapidly.

Conclusion

It is not yet known whether EVALI represents a widespread health risk that could affect millions of users or is isolated to certain products or practices. Whatever the case, thousands of people face severe health effects right now.

Today’s vaping clinical trials will be essential to the health of former and future e-cigarette users. Being aware of the potential risks of vaping – and making family and friends aware of those risks – is advisable as more information becomes available.