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What is vaping?

What is vaping?
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When e-cigarettes first hit the market in late 2000, they were believed to be a safer alternative to tobacco cigarettes, but now there is evidence to the contrary. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have counted close to 3000 cases of the new vaping related lung disease known as EVALI (e-cigarette, or vaping, product use-associated lung injury). In statistics gathered by 29 US states, the agency has recorded 68 deaths. And then there’s the potential for the habit to aggravate the symptoms of Covid-19, potentially leading to severe cases and increasing the risk of death from the new coronavirus.

Vaping is also addictive. Vaping with a JUUL can be as dangerous as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day. When you vape, you inhale liquid (or e-juice) from a cartridge attached to the vaping device. In addition to nicotine, that liquid can contain dozens of other chemical ingredients and flavourings.

Kids and teenagers have been especially attracted to vaping, thanks in part to attractive flavours like bubble gum, mango, and mint. Vape use in high school students rose by 900 per cent between 2011 and 2015, according to the US Surgeon General. In Australia between 2016 and 2019, the number of current e-cigarette users aged 15-24 increased by approximately 72,000 (95.7% increase) for a total of approximately 147,000.

Quitting vaping can be difficult, just like trying to stop smoking. And while quitting can be hard on the body, you’ll mostly start to benefit as soon as you make the decision to kick the habit.

20 minutes later: Cardiovascular improvements

20 minutes later: Cardiovascular improvements
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In as little as 20 minutes, “your heart rate returns to normal, your blood pressure drops, and your circulation starts to normalise,” says Dr Nikola Djordjevic, of Med Alert Help.

Your breathing may improve, too: The two key ingredients in an e-cigarette – propylene glycol and vegetable glycerine – produce chemicals when heated that are detrimental to your respiratory tract, according to research published in 2018 in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. “When you quit vaping, you should find that your breathing becomes less laboured and your airflow is clearer,” says Caleb Backe, a health and wellness expert.

A few hours later: Nicotine withdrawals

A few hours later: Nicotine withdrawals
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Nicotine is addictive, and you may experience some minor and temporary symptoms. “Acute nicotine withdrawal symptoms can be psychological and physical,” says Dr Djordjevic. The psychological symptoms can include cravings for nicotine, mood swings, trouble concentrating, irritability and anxiety, he says. Physical symptoms include “headaches, sweating, tremors, insomnia, increased appetite, abdominal cramps and constipation,” Dr Djordjevic says.

These are the first effects you’re likely to feel, often within four to 24 hours after quitting. These effects will peak around day three, Dr Djordjevic says, “and gradually decrease during the following three to four weeks. So it will take around a month to break the habit.”

One day later: Heart attack risk falls

One day later: Heart attack risk falls
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According to a 2018 study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, daily e-cigarette use doubles a person’s risk for a heart attack. If you quit, however, the risk begins to fall very quickly. “After just one day, your heart attack risk starts to decrease thanks to the lowering of blood pressure, rising blood oxygen levels and reducing the negative influence on cholesterol levels and the formation of blood clots,” Dr Djordjevic says.

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Two days later: Senses begin to improve

Two days later: Senses begin to improve
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Vaping, like cigarette smoking, can blunt your senses, reducing your ability to smell and taste. After just 48 hours without a puff, you may begin to notice your ability to taste and smell food has improved. Nicotine affects more than your brain; new research suggests nicotine can raise your blood sugar, too.

Three days later: Nicotine is out of the body

Three days later: Nicotine is out of the body
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If you haven’t had nicotine withdrawals yet, you may be experiencing them by day three. “Nicotine leaves your body on day three, which is why withdrawal symptoms peak then,” Dr Djordjevic says.

“You can have withdrawal symptoms of nicotine in the form of a headache, sweating, abdominal cramping or nicotine cravings,” says Osita Onugha, thoracic surgeon.

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One month later: Lungs begin to show how much healthier they are

One month later: Lungs begin to show how much healthier they are
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Smokers often have a nagging cough or make a wheezing sound when they breathe that many refer to as a smoker’s cough. Smoking even e-cigarettes can badly impair your lung health and make fighting off infections difficult. Quitting, however, will help your lungs rebound. “After one month, your lung capacity improves; there’s noticeably less shortness of breath and coughing,” Dr Djordjevic says.

After three months: Blood circulation has improved

After three months: Blood circulation has improved
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Nicotine in cigarettes constricts the blood vessels in your skin and around your heart, according to 2016 research published in the journal Trends in Cardiovascular Medicine. The nicotine in an e-cigarette may be just as harmful. However, after you quit, your blood circulation will begin to improve, as blood vessels return to their normal diameter.

After nine months: Your lungs can fight infections again

After nine months: Your lungs can fight infections again
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“After nine months, lung health improves significantly thanks to the renewal of microscopic hair-like structures inside the lungs that help push out mucus and fight infections,” Dr Djordjevic says. This could significantly reduce your likelihood of some infections and complications from illnesses like the flu and pneumonia.

After one year: Your risk of a heart attack is cut in half

After one year: Your risk of a heart attack is cut in half
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Now that your blood vessels are returning to normal size, your heart rate is back to a safe pace, and your blood pressure is lowered, your risk for a heart attack is lower than while you were still vaping. “After one year, cardiovascular risk reduces by 50 per cent,” Dr Djordjevic says.

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