Electronic cigarettes are the new high-tech way to inhale. Are they any safer than tobacco? Or are they just another way to get the next generation hooked on a bad nicotine habit?
The jury is still out.
Research is still ongoing about the effect of e-cigarettes on their users. While the scientists are studying this new trend known as vaping, it’s growing rapidly around the world. The vaping industry is booming like nothing else in the tobacco industry in decades. Currently, it’s over a billion dollars. By current projections, e-cigarettes are on track to outsell other tobacco products within the next decade. The fastest growth is among young people; and the number of teenagers using e-cigarettes doubled between 2011 and 2012.
How ‘Vaping’ Works
Vaping involves smoking what’s known as e-cigarettes. These closely resemble traditional cigarettes. As you inhale, the end glows. As you exhale, you puff out a cloud of what looks like smoke. “The vapor that comes out is similar to something you’d see at a rock show,” says M. Brad Drummond, MD, assistant professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
Within the e-cigarette, there is a battery, a heating element, and a cartridge that holds the nicotine and flavorings. Some are disposable, others are rechargeable.
Is Vaping Safer than Traditional Cigarette Smoking?
Of course, the nicotine inside the cartridges is addictive. Quitting vaping comes with all the usual withdrawal symptoms—irritability, depression, restlessness, and anxiety. It can be particularly dangerous for people with heart problems.
Some argue that vaping is safer and more healthy than regular cigarettes since the biggest danger from tobacco is the smoke, and e-cigarettes don’t burn. Some preliminary tests showed the chemicals e-cigarettes give off are fractions of what traditional cigarettes produce. “E-cigarettes may be less harmful than cigarettes,” Drummond says. “But we still don’t know enough about their long-term risks or the effects of secondhand exposure.”
The American Lung Association has noticed the increase in e-cigarettes users and they’re watching the trend with growing concern. While some individuals argue that e-cigarettes are healthier than traditional cigarettes, there are still a lot of unknowns surrounding e-cigarettes. Because of this, the FDA has not issued any regulations or guidelines about the health effects they may have. However, we are starting to see some trends in their effects on pain.
Neck Pain and Vaping
While not officially listed as a side effect, many e-cigarette users have reported experiencing neck pain and headaches after vaping, especially after the first three months of use. After further investigation, it’s been found that muscle aches are in fact a recognized side effect. Since reports of pain from e-cigarettes are just now coming to light, we do not know the exact cause, but it is suggested that the propylene glycol (PG) is metabolized into lactic acid and causes pain. This particular fact isn’t actually new information since studies have also shown that lactic acid may be responsible for muscle pain in fibromyalgia patients.
Read more on vaping and neck pain research here.
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