By now, everyone should be familiar with this pen-like thing that is in the hands of teenagers and young adults. Yes, we are indeed talking about e-cigarettes. It is an electronic cigarette that works as a vaporizer that is powered by an in-built battery that is supposedly a substitute for actual cigarettes. Instead of inhaling the smoke from cigarettes, e-cigarettes allow the user to inhale aerosol which is mostly flavoured. This is an attractive point for young adults nowadays as there is also a widely shared “fact” that using e-cigarettes are better than smoking itself. However, there is still nicotine in every vape inhalation, so there are still downsides to it. Now, the main problem is still, can flavoured e-cigarettes worsen asthma symptoms? Today, we shall discuss it and you can Get answers by Doctors.
Asthma is a condition in which the walls leading to the lungs get irritated by any allergens, causing it to be reversibly thickened, hence obstructing the airway causing difficulty of breathing for the patient. As long as there are no triggers, the patient can breathe like normal. We need to look into the ingredients that make up a flavoured e-cigarette to know if any of its constituents can worsen asthma symptoms.
The first to be discussed is the propylene glycol (PG) and glycerin which are the majority of the liquid in the e-cigarette. They are the ones that store the nicotine and flavouring agents in liquid suspension, and when heated by the e-cigarette, can make plumes of aerosolized particles which is inhaled by the user. There is a concern that while PG and glycerin are being heated up to certain temperatures, some carbonyl compounds would be formed as by-products, which could be toxic or irritant to the respiratory system. These carbonyl by-products such as formaldehyde, acrolein, and acetaldehyde have been known to be an irritant to worsen asthma symptoms. However, with the new generation of e-cigarettes, the voltage could be adjusted which affects the power of the heating coil. Majority of the e-cigarette users prefer high voltage vaping because more aerosol can be obtained from a single puff, in which there is a higher chance for carbonyl compounds to be formed.
Secondly, the flavouring used in e-cigarettes can contain substances that can worsen asthma symptoms as well. For example, the two ingredients that are mostly identified with a high possibility to worsen asthma symptoms are eugenol and cinnamaldehyde, with the latter being the responsible agent for a cinnamon’s taste and smell. However, being that e-cigarettes have only been around for less than a decade, it is hard to positively link cinnamaldehyde to asthma symptoms as a chronic effect. For the other sweet flavouring that is often used in e-cigarettes, benzaldehyde is used for fruit or cherry flavouring. Now, there really aren’t many studies that can prove the effect on asthma symptoms by benzaldehyde specifically, but other low-molecular-weight aldehydes that are similar have been proven to worsen lung function.
The last ingredient discussed today would be nicotine. This is a common constituent between both e-cigarettes and cigarettes. Nicotine has the ability to increase mucus production, also thickening it in the process. Generally, this isn’t a problem for asthma patients. However, the thickened mucus serves as a wonderful bed for any viral or bacterial infection in the lungs. This is a major trigger for asthma patients. Let’s not forget about the possibility of lung cancer as well!
In conclusion, there is no concrete long term evidence that using e-cigarettes can worsen asthma symptoms, but from breaking down the ingredients as listed above, there is a high possibility that it does play a role in worsening the symptoms. Therefore, it is better to try and abstain from e-cigarettes until a long term study could be drawn up in a few more years. Plus, if asthma worsening isn’t the problem, mind the vape related pneumonia that is on the rise as well! Stay healthy!