You know cigarettes and COPD are a bad combo. You tried to quit but couldn’t stick to it, so now you’re looking into electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes or vaping). While they might help you kick your tobacco habit, are they any safer? Although there’s still much to be discovered when it comes to the long-term effects of vaping, they’re still not a safe choice for people with lung problems like COPD. Today we’re looking into whether you can get COPD from vaping and the signs to look out for.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a chronic inflammatory lung disease that obstructs airflow in the lungs, making breathing difficult. COPD is usually caused by long-term exposure to irritating gases like cigarette smoke. People with COPD are more likely to develop heart disease, lung cancer, and a variety of other diseases.
Emphysema and chronic bronchitis are two conditions that are most commonly linked to COPD. They often occur simultaneously and can produce more severe symptoms in people with COPD. Emphysema is a condition in which the air sacs (alveoli) at the end of small air passages in the lungs (bronchioles) are destroyed as a result of exposure to toxic and damaging gases like cigarette smoke.
Chronic bronchitis produces inflammation of the bronchial tube lining, which carries air to and from the alveoli. This condition is marked by symptoms like heavy coughing and mucus production. Both of these conditions may co-occur with each other as well as with COPD.
COPD symptoms don’t usually occur until significant damage is already done. They also tend to worsen over time, especially if the person continues to smoke or expose themselves to harmful gases.
People with COPD may also experience episodes called exacerbations of flare-ups. COPD flare-up symptoms are usually worse than average symptoms and usually persist for several days. In addition to coughing and difficulty breathing, symptoms of COPD flare-up may include fatigue, fever, scratchy throat, confusion, and drowsiness.
It’s important to seek out treatment and stick to your treatment plan to keep symptoms under control and prevent flare-ups.
Yes, you can get COPD from vaping. Tobacco smoke contains hundreds of harmful chemicals that can lead to COPD and worsen symptoms. Although e-cigarettes and vape pens are advertised as safer alternatives to the real thing, this isn’t true. When you vape, you inhale aerosol (mist) instead of smoke, but this can still produce the same inflammation in the lungs as cigarette smoke.
Vape pen cartridges also contain other chemicals that you wouldn’t want in your body, including nicotine, diacetyl, lead, tin, nickel, and tiny particles that work their way into your lungs. Diacetyl is a buttery flavoring that causes scarring in the tiny air sacs in your lungs and narrows your airways. It’s known for producing popcorn lung, which produces symptoms like those of COPD.
A recent study on vaping and lung disease found that of 705,159 participants, current e-cigarette use was associated with 75% higher odds of chronic bronchitis, emphysema, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease compared with users who never smoked e-cigarettes. Daily e-cigarette users had the highest odds of developing these conditions than any other participants.1
Secondhand vape smoke is also dangerous to inhale and can lead to long-term effects on the lungs like COPD. Despite the repercussions, some people still wonder, “If you have COPD can you vape?” No! Vaping is bad for COPD, and people with this condition should avoid smoking and exposure to cigarettes and vape pens, as both smoke and mist can worsen their symptoms and overall condition.
In addition to long-term effects like lung disease, the nicotine in vape pens is also addictive. Nicotine and tobacco products are considered common gateway drugs, often opening the doorway to other forms of substance abuse. If you or a loved one has developed a smoking habit or become addicted to other drugs or alcohol, our Heartland drug rehab can help.
In addition, to medically monitored detox to mitigate withdrawal symptoms from different drugs, our facility also offers substance-specific treatment programs where patients can receive step-by-step guidance on how to develop a lifestyle that’s conducive to their sobriety.
Source:1. American Journal of Preventive Medicine - Association Between E-Cigarette Use and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease by Smoking Status: Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System 2016 and 2017