Vaping Lung Disease Often Resulted in Long-Term Damage: Study

Long-term damage linked to EVALI vaping lung injuries can include anxiety, depression and PTSD

The findings of a new study raises concerns about the side effects of vaping lung disease, which has been identified among some users of e-cigarettes, indicating that the recently identified condition is associated with other long-term problems, such as depression, brain fog and breathing difficulties.

E-cigarette or vaping associated lung injury (EVALI) is a medical condition that caused widespread concern between late 2019 and early 2020, as state and federal health officials sought to understand the cause of spreading respiratory problems identified among nearly 2,500 individuals nationwide, including at least 50 vaping deaths.

In a report published in the Annals of the American Thoracic Society, researchers estimate that more than 60% of individuals associated with the vaping lung disease were left with long-term bouts of anxiety or depression, as well as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Researchers tracked 73 patients who were treated for EVALI at Intermountain Healthcare or the University of Utah Health from mid-July 2020 to mid-August 2021. They assessed outcomes one year after onset of EVALI and evaluated their cognitive function, depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress, respiratory disability, COVID-19 infection, pulmonary function, and vaping behaviors.

In 2019, teens and adults began suffering from lung problems after vaping, but officials struggled to determine a potential source. Eventually vitamin-e acetate, which is often use in vaping products containing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) were determined to be the cause. Patients diagnosed with EVALI were experiencing debilitating lung problems and severe lung injury.

The new study focused on determining if EVALI posed any long-term side effects to patients following reports that many continued to suffer from lung problems including breathing issues and mood disorder.

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According to the findings, at the 12-month follow up, 40% of patients suffered from cognitive impairment, 44% reported having difficulty concentrating, remembering things or making decisions and nearly 50% still had respiratory limitations. One-quarter of patients still had problems breathing or shortness of breath.

Furthermore, 60% reported having persistent anxiety or depression, 62% had PTSD, and only 6% had a history of COVID-19 infection. Doctors often mistake EVALI for COVID-19 illness.

“Patients with EVALI, despite their youth, commonly have significant long-term respiratory disability, cognitive impairment, symptoms of depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress, and persistent vaping,” the researchers wrote.

E-cigarettes contain a mix of harmful chemicals and heavy metals which can lead to serious consequences for the lungs. Overall, one-third of people who vape suffer lung damage.

Only 38% of patients reported quitting all vaping after suffering from EVALI lung injury, the researchers reported.

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