Smoking cigarettes and vaping are two substances that can pose health risks to smokers and people who are trying to quit.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people who smoke are at higher risk for many health conditions, including:
- Lung cancer
- Heart disease
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
Smoking can also cause serious respiratory problems, such as:
- Chronic bronchitis
- Coughing up blood
- Lung infections
People who vape also may be at risk for serious health conditions, including:
- Lung injury
- Heart and lung disease
- Heart attack
- Acute respiratory distress syndrome
- Non-small cell lung cancer
- Small cell lung cancer
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
Nicotine is found in tobacco products, including cigarettes, and the nicotine in these products can damage the lungs. The nicotine in these products also contributes to coughing and other symptoms of respiratory diseases.
Nicotine is also found in nicotine products, such as e-cigarette liquids and e-cigarette devices. E-cigarette liquid contains nicotine, but it also contains other chemicals that can cause lung damage.
People who vape, either with or without nicotine, also may be at risk for respiratory failure, a rare condition that can lead to breathing problems and death.
Smoking and vaping aren’t the only substances that may cause serious health problems. Some people who are trying to quit smoking or vaping may also be at risk for other serious health conditions, such as:
- Mental health conditions, including depression and anxiety
- Chronic pain
The CDC says that people who vape or smoke may also be at risk for:
- Allergic reactions
- Skin reactions
- Skin and eye damage
- Erosion of tooth enamel
- Allergic reactions to nicotine
Treatment for Serious Health Conditions
Treatment for serious health conditions often depends on the severity of the symptoms. It also depends on the extent of the damage to the body.
Some serious health conditions, such as lung cancer, require immediate medical care. Other conditions, such as bronchitis, may require a treatment plan that includes a series of tests and medical procedures.
Some conditions, such as pneumonia, may have no symptoms. In these cases, the CDC says that a person should see a doctor if they have:
- The flu-like symptoms of the virus
- Fever, chills, or body aches
- Shortness of breath
The CDC recommends that people who experience respiratory symptoms should see a healthcare provider.
The CDC also suggests that people who have been exposed to a serious health condition should see a healthcare provider or get medical care to determine the best treatment.
The CDC recommends that people who have a serious health condition undergo:
- A chest X-ray. This test can help doctors determine the extent of lung damage.
- An electrocardiogram (ECG). This test can help doctors determine if the heart is having trouble pumping blood.
- Blood tests to determine if there are signs of infection.
- Lung function tests. This test can help doctors determine the amount of damage to the lungs.
- A CT scan of the chest. This test can help doctors determine if the lungs have been damaged or if other organs have been damaged.
- A CT scan of the head. This test can help doctors determine if the brain has been damaged.
- A lumbar puncture (spinal tap). This test can help doctors determine the cause of the person’s head pain.
- A blood test. This test can help doctors determine if the person has a condition that may have caused the brain damage.
- An MRI. This test can help doctors determine if the brain has been injured.
- A biopsy of the brain. This test can help doctors determine the cause of the brain injury.
Treatment for a serious health condition may include:
- Medications. These can help manage the symptoms of the condition.
- Surgery. Surgery may be used to remove tumors or to remove damaged tissue.
- Dialysis. This is a treatment that involves the use of a machine to filter blood.
Treatment for a serious health condition may also include:
- Pain medication. These can help manage the symptoms of a condition.
- Oxygen therapy. This is a treatment that helps the body get rid of the carbon dioxide that’s been built up as a result of breathing.
- Nutrition support. This is a treatment that can help people take in nutrients.
- Pulmonary rehabilitation. This is a treatment that helps people manage their condition and learn how to breathe more easily.
Prevention and Control of Serious Health Conditions
To help prevent serious health conditions, people should:
- Talk to their healthcare provider about quitting smoking and vaping.
- Get their annual flu shot.
- Get the pneumonia vaccine.
- Have their annual flu shot.
- Get the tetanus vaccine.
- Have their pneumococcal vaccine.
- Get the COVID-19 vaccine.
- Keep their immune system healthy.
The CDC recommends that people:
- Get the flu vaccine.
- Get the tetanus vaccine or the diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (DTP) vaccine.
- Keep their immune system healthy by eating a nutritious diet, getting regular exercise, and practicing good hygiene.
The CDC also recommends that people with serious health conditions:
- See a doctor periodically to check for signs of serious health conditions.
- Keep up with all of their immunizations.
- Follow their doctor’s instructions about when to return to work or school.
Some serious health conditions can cause serious health problems. These conditions may require hospitalization or treatment.
Anyone who suspects that they may have a serious health condition should talk to their healthcare provider.
Anyone who experiences symptoms of a serious health condition should see a doctor as soon as possible.
Images by Freepik