Vaping Illness Outbreak: What You Need to Know

A dramatic rise in lung and respiratory illnesses–530 cases and counting–has doctors concerned about the one element shared between them all: vaping. Eight of those patients have died, some with a history of vaping marijuana (THC) and some known to use e-cigarettes for nicotine.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, along with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), are working closely with investigators to understand how these patients are falling ill but they’re keeping findings close to the vest at this time. While facts are still emerging, here’s what you need to know about vaping to continue exploring cannabis safely.

What’s the Issue?

The most recent suggested culprit seems to be Vitamin E acetate, a typically healthy supplement when consumed orally or topically. Researchers believe that when vitamin E acetate is vaporized and inhaled, the results can be catastrophically opposite. We should also note that these findings are early and may change as research continues.

Where is Vitamin E found in vaping?

Most of the illnesses have been found in patients who used vape devices to consume THC from the cannabis plant. To date, there have been no reports of cases from a CBD-only product. A majority of these illnesses were found in counterfeit products, altered oils, or devices and cartridges purchased “on the street.”

With this initial finding, federal agencies began urging consumers to only use devices purchased from reputable, licensed sources like dispensaries. That said, there have been recent reports of illnesses from vaping devices purchased from dispensaries, throwing even more questions into the mix.

Additionally, some patients reported using vaping devices not for cannabis, but for nicotine. These cases mostly revealed products that were purchased from counterfeit companies but research is still ongoing.

What are the symptoms?

Patients reported feeling initial symptoms of fatigue, nausea, vomiting, coughing and fever. In some cases, it progressed to shortness of breath requiring hospitalization and supplementary oxygen. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, please consult a physician.

What to Do to Stay Healthy

Almost all federal officials, investigators, and doctors agree that a fundamental start to keeping yourself healthy is to avoid products purchased “off the street” or in another suspect area like the back of a car or an alley. They also urge consumers not to make modifications to a product or buy a product that has been altered in any way.

That leaves the door open to using vape products that have been purchased at licensed retailers. While brands like Dosist and BloomFarms have come out guaranteeing their products’ safety, there is still no determined cause for these lung illnesses and deaths. For that reason, the C.D.C. and some state health officials are taking a more conservative approach by recommending steering clear of vaping altogether while these investigations are ongoing.

 

 


Resources:
Sixth Person Dies from Vaping Related Illness, Washington Post
What You Need to Know About Vaping-Related Lung Illness, NY Times
Contaminate Found in Marijuana Vaping Products Linked to Deadly Lung Illnesses, Studies Show, Washington Post

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