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Group of teens.

Is Your Teen Vaping?

E-cigarettes were initially designed to help adults quit smoking. Throughout our community, we are seeing an alarming rise of use amongst adolescents as well as finding out the risks of vaping are more dangerous than we once thought.

Vaping is the act of inhaling an aerosol product that is heated up by using an electronic handheld device.  While there are many nick names for vape pens, names for these devices include: Juuls, pod mods, ENDS, e-cigarettes, and wax pens.  The aerosol inhaled can contain nicotine or cannabis, and is not regulated by the FDA.

A recent California survey done by the National Institute on Drug Abuse shows that 37.8 percent of high school seniors reported vaping at least once in the last year.  That’s a 10% increase from last year. Research shows vaping is extra risky for adolescents because their brains are still developing. Vaping exposes their brains to a highly addictive substance, and can cause permanent brain changes which can lead to a lifetime of addiction.

Parents should be aware of the signs and symptoms of vaping and openly communicate with their teens about how the use of these products can impact their health:

  • Be aware of whiffs of distinct fruity or sweet vapor; although it doesn’t linger very long, vaping produces a distinct aroma
  • Look for conspicuous “pens” that are not really writing tools, and USB or thumb drives that look suspicious

Be on the lookout for physical symptoms including nosebleeds, dry skin, coughing, and excessive thirst. Vaping can cause issues that lead to pneumonia and serious lung injuries. Although these symptoms may seem normal for teens or pre-teens; acne flare-ups, mood swings, fatigue, headaches can all signal nicotine withdrawal and a red flag that your child may be vaping.

Kelly Vial, FNPc, is family nurse practitioner at Barton Family Medicine in South Lake Tahoe.