Does Vaping Cause Nasal Congestion, Sinusitis, or Allergies?
The use of e-cigarettes (vaping) has dramatically increased in the last five years, making it a $3.5 billion business. While it’s often marketed as a “healthier” alternative to cigarettes, in actuality, vaping can lead to extensive health problems, including a new condition known as vape lung.
E-cigarettes include harmful ingredients such as nicotine, diacetyl (which is linked to lung disease), benzene (which is found in car exhaust), nickel, tin and lead. Vaping can also irritate your lungs, making current allergies worse, and agitating asthma.
Now, more recent information from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reveals that there is a possibility that vaping could be the cause of a serious lung disease which is being called “vape lung.”
As of September 2019, there are more than 450 cases of this illness from 33 states including North Carolina and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Some of those affected had to be hospitalized and placed on oxygen.
Five deaths were confirmed in Illinois, California, Indiana, Oregon and Minnesota.
All those who were ill had a history of vaping. Some even used e-cigarettes products that contained THC, a cannabinoid product. Investigations are ongoing, but until more answers can be discovered, the CDC is discouraging the public from vaping and declaring it a public health hazard.
What is Vape Lung?
Vape lung is the term that is being given to a cluster of symptoms that arise from what is believed to be the sustained use of e-cigarettes. Vape lung is not an infection—which means it is likely the result of exposure to the chemicals in vaping products.
The CDC advises people not to use any e-cigarette products because it is possible that they could develop vape lung. Those who regularly use e-cigarettes should be on the lookout for symptoms of the disease. Some of these symptoms include:
- Chest pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- Shortness of breath
- Abdominal pain
In some cases, these symptoms developed over a few days, however, with others, the signs developed over the course of several weeks. Vape lung does not improve with antibiotic treatment, and those with it may have to be hospitalized and placed on supplemental oxygen or ventilation.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should schedule an appointment with your primary care provider, particularly if you use e-cigarettes regularly.
E-CIGARETTES DAMAGE LUNG TISSUES
Vaping can damage respiratory epithelium. These are layers of cells that play an important role by moistening and protecting the airway by capturing any irritants or harmful substances.
When these cells aren’t functioning properly, it increases the incidence and severity of bacterial lung infections.
The research is ongoing; scientists are still studying the long-term effects of vaping and e-cigarettes, and there’s a concern that the ingredients in e-cigarette aerosol can have a devastating impact on lungs after long-term use.
A particular issue is the flavorings. While these flavorings may be safe to eat, this does not mean they are safe to inhale.
Dangers are not limited to the actual vaping; in some cases, defective e-cigarette devices and batteries have caused fires. Children can also be poisoned if they accidentally swallow or absorb e-cigarette liquid.
VAPING CAN INCREASE S. AUREUS COLONIZATION
An estimated 30 percent of the population carries the staphylococcus aureus bacteria in their noses.
Most of the time, if you have a healthy immune system and no underlying health problems, the staph does not cause any problems. However, it can lead to serious, and sometimes fatal, infections, according to information from the Centers for Disease Control.
How is Vaping Associated with Allergies?
The bottom line is there is still a lot of research that needs to be done before definitive conclusions can be reached on how vaping is associated with allergies.
Research is ongoing into the connection between vaping and its long-term effects on allergies and asthma, and some scientists believe e-cigarette smoking could be one of the key factors behind the current allergy epidemic. Initial studies have demonstrated:
VAPING CAN INCREASE IN ALLERGIC REACTIONS AND ALLERGY SENSITIVITY
E-cigarettes affect IgE, a substance that is involved in the immune system’s response and allergic reactions. This means there’s a potential for making diseases such as asthma, rhinitis, and hay fever worse in those who vape, according to research from the medical journal Clinical and Translational Allergy.
Are Sinus Infections Caused by Vaping?
It’s possible that vaping may be a contributing factor to some sinus infections. Since vaping increases allergy sensitivity, and allergies can lead to possible sinus infections, vaping could be one of the factors to consider when determining the source of a sinus infection.
However, more study is needed in this area before any major conclusions can be drawn regarding whether or not sinus infections are directly caused by vaping.
Does Vaping Cause Nasal Congestion?
Since vaping can contribute to allergic reactions, it can make rhinitis and hay fever worse. These diseases can cause nasal congestion. Therefore, there appears to be an indirect link between vaping and nasal congestion.
MORE VAPING STUDIES ARE NEEDED
There is still a lot scientists don’t know about the extent to which e-cigarettes affect asthma and allergies. However, preliminary information indicates significant evidence to warrant further research and to call the vaping trend a serious public health hazard. The occurrences of “vape lung” appear to validate the need for further study.
Organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control and the American Heart Association caution that these devices still have several toxic substances and that more young adults and adolescents mistakenly think it is a risk-free alternative to smoking.
Conclusion: No Amount of Vaping is Safe
Some would argue that “vaping is better than smoking tobacco,” but we caution that this statement doesn’t mean that vaping is safe.
The toxins in e-cigarette fluid and the recent outbreaks of vape lung demonstrate that this product is, as the CDC declared, a public health hazard.
If you need to quit smoking, there are better alternative strategies than moving from smoking tobacco to vaping.
Our Ear, Nose and Throat Physicians in Raleigh Can Help
Our ear, nose and throat physicians in Raleigh can help relieve your allergies with the latest treatments—no matter what their cause.
If you have chronic problems with allergies, sinusitis or other ear, nose and throat problems, first and foremost, you should stop vaping. If you don’t vape, don’t start. Schedule an appointment with us. Our board-certified physicians offer compassionate care that seeks to treat the underlying causes—not just the symptoms—of your allergies.