Although vaping may seem safer than smoking cigarettes, it is still one of the most common detriments to lung health. The month of October is Healthy Lung Month, and there are countless ways to take care of the respiratory system.
According to the National Center for Health Research, vaping has not only become the most common method of using nicotine among young people, but it has drifted from its original purpose.
The negative long-term effects of cigarette and tobacco consumption are known, but the same cannot be said for vaping.
“We don’t have enough data,” said Julie Sanz, assistant director of the Wellness Center and nurse practitioner at Stevenson University. “Unfortunately, I think that this adolescent population is going to be the guinea pig.”
JUULs, which are vapes with a more concentrated nicotine content, have become extremely popular among high school and college students due to an attractive marketing campaign. According to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free kids, JUULs are used by over 2.1 million youth in the United States alone.
“Nicotine addiction is very harmful for people of young ages,” said Jalyn Briscoe, sophomore nursing student at Stevenson. “This is because the younger they start, the longer they will have been using it when they are older, and it is less likely that they will quit.”
The National Center for Health Research also stated that vaping may be a person’s gateway to nicotine. As such, it may cause them to start smoking, whereas if they had never vaped at all they would have never smoked in the first place.
CAUSE OF LUNG PROBLEMS
Environment can also play a big part in lung health. “The air is more dry and crisp in the winter,” said Briscoe, “making it harder to breath for those with existing lung problems.” By continuing to smoke, various infections could turn into pneumonia or something worse.
During spring, those with asthma and seasonal allergens should always be conscious of any triggers. According to WebMD, these could include pollen exposure or nicotine consumption. WebMD also suggests downloading an app called WebMD Allergy that tells viewers when pollen levels are safe.
Symptoms of unhealthy lungs can be easy to identify, but they can also be discrete. Office on Women’s Health lists shortness of breath, chronic coughing fits, and chest pain as just some of the possible symptoms of unhealthy lungs.
One of the most complicated lung problems is lung cancer, because it could require a lung transplant. “I’ve seen it take the lives of young people,” said Sanz. “What starts in the lung may lead to something in the liver, breast, or abdominal tissue.”
Many young people think their youth protects them from severe health issues, but this is not the case. “Young people should care about their lungs more,” said Briscoe, “because if damage happens at a young age, it is almost impossible to fix.”
ON CAMPUS RESOURCES
Resources are available for students who need help on and off campus. Sanz added, “The [Baltimore County Health Department] can work with people free of charge to quit smoking any sort of nicotine product.” Some of this help includes free counseling, medication, and support group therapy. Chantix and nicotine gum are also available through the Wellness Center.
The Fitness Center is a resource as well, since physical fitness plays a huge part in lung health. “You can exercise your lungs just like you can exercise your muscles,” stated Sanz.
Although some complications may arrive, lung health is almost always based on the decisions that each individual makes. By heading down the right path, non-smokers can make a difference in not only their life, but also the lives of those around them.