As the vaping epidemic grows, so does the mystery behind an outbreak of vaping-related lung illnesses among otherwise healthy teens/young adults. Symptoms reported include shortness of breath, cough, chest pain, vomiting, fever and fatigue. The severe respiratory ailments, which can occur suddenly, do not show any signs of viral or bacterial infection, further complicating treatment. Health experts are trying to identify a particular chemical substance, product or device common in each case.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is analyzing samples submitted by several states for the presence of a broad range of chemicals, including nicotine, THC (the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana) and other cannabinoids, along with other additives, pesticides, opioids, poisons, heavy metals and toxins.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) currently advises everyone to stay away from vaping, and always advise young people not to vape. According to the CDC (as of press time), this multistate outbreak numbers more than 805 cases and 12 deaths, including one in Illinois. Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) highlights these cases by county.
Click here for more details about the outbreak, local data on student vaping and what you can do. With all of this dominating the news, take the opportunity to talk to your teen to learn more and gauge whether you should be concerned:
Start with open-ended questions to start the conversation, like: “What do you think about vaping?” “What do your friends think about it?”
Openly discuss the risks. Ask your teen whether they know how kids their age are vaping marijuana.
Offer to help your teen role play a conversation with a friend they may be concerned about.
Share your expectations that your teen stays drug-free. Let them know you are always there for them or for a friend who may need help.