Many teens suffer harsh respiratory symptoms like bronchitis and shortness of breath after just a month of vaping, a study suggests. Scientists from Ohio State University and the Southern California Keck School of Medicine looked at four years of data from online surveys to examine the health impact of e-cigarettes on young adults.
Past 30-day vape users had an 81 percent higher risk of wheezing, a 78 percent higher risk of feeling short of breath and were 50 percent more likely to have bronchitis symptoms compared to teens who had never used an e-cigarette.
Millions of children are hooked on e-cigarettes across the US. Roughly 2.5 million middle and high school students were addicted as of late 2022, marking a jump of 500,000, or of 24 percent, from 2021. It is the first increase since 2019.
Partly funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the latest study adds to a growing body of evidence that e-cigarette use is linked to serious respiratory symptoms.
In the survey, youngsters were asked whether they had used e-cigarettes, cigarettes or cannabis in the past 30 days
More than 2.5 million US children use e-cigarettes — rising a half-million from last year and reversing downward trends in recent years. It is the first increase since the CDC started gathering annual data in 2019
Researchers looked at more than 2,000 young people with an average age of 17.3 years from the Southern California Children’s Health Study.
In 2014, participants filled out a survey about their respiratory symptoms and e-cigarette, cigarette and cannabis use.
Those who had never tried the substances were classified as ‘never users’, while participants who had used the substances at least once in the past 30 days were categorized as ‘past 30-day users.’
Past 30-day vape users had an 81 percent higher risk of wheezing after researchers accounted for age, sex, race and parental education.
Wheezing was defined as wheezing or whistling in the chest in the previous year.
Past 30-day users also had a 78 percent higher risk of feeling short of breath and were 50 percent more likely to have bronchitis symptoms — or inflammation in the respiratory system that makes it harder to breathe.
When the researchers accounted for teens also using cigarettes and cannabis, plus secondhand exposure to any of the three substances, they found that the link was reduced.
Past 30-day users were at a 41 percent increased risk of wheezing compared to never users if they also used cigarettes or cannabis or were exposed to them secondhand.
Signs of bronchitis and breathlessness remained significant, but Alayna Tackett, a pediatric psychologist and researcher at the Center for Tobacco Research, said: ‘Wheeze was no longer significantly related to the respiratory symptoms associated with e-cigarette use when we controlled for co-use of cigarettes and cannabis.’
The study was observational, meaning the researchers cannot say that vaping was directly responsible for the rise. The data from the surveys was also self-reported, which means participants might have inaccurately recorded their use.
According to a 2022 CDC survey, 14 percent of high schoolers and three percent of middle schoolers were estimated to be using the devices regularly.
The report also found that 85 percent of those who reported regular use of the devices were using flavored e-cigarettes.
Among users, 28 percent said that they puffed on their e-cigarettes each day. Just over 40 percent reported using it at least 20 or more of the last 30 days.