As electronic cigarettes continue to grow in popularity, they have drawn more attention from government officials and health experts. For many of those government officials, the desire to regulate and tax virtually every new product they encounter makes the e-cig industry an inviting target. Health experts, however, have a less controlling interest in these products. Many doctors and scientists simply want to better understand the safety issues surrounding the use of e-cigarettes, and determine what, if any, e-liquid side effects may accompany vaping. To understand a little more about e-liquids, before we start, it’s probably a good idea to read this introduction to e-liquids.
Differentiating Between Dangers
To listen to the experts who frequent news programs on various television networks, one would think that electronic cigarettes are the most terrible thing the world has ever seen. And yet, many of these experts can point to only one demonstrable danger when they are pinned down on the subject: the risk that users or others will come into direct physical contact with liquid nicotine. When pressed about the actual harm caused by vaping, many commentators deflect time and again to liquid nicotine while acknowledging that they know little about any actual harmful effects from vapor ingestion.
The fact is that there are side effects associated with vaping, just as there are side effects associated with caffeine use, consumption of alcohol, and overeating. There are also side effects associated with exposure to liquid nicotine, but it would be wrong to conflate the issues and pretend that they are indistinguishable from one another.
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Side Effects Associated with Vaping
Let’s get one thing out of the way right off the bat: research has demonstrated that vaping is much safer than cigarette use. In one study, researchers determined that the toxic substances they did manage to find in e-cigarette vapors occurred in concentrations that were as much as 450 times lower than that typically found in burner cigarettes. The research team concluded that vaping could be considered a useful option for limiting potential harm by dramatically reducing a smoker’s exposure to harmful intoxicates.
With that duly noted, there are some potential side effects that can occur when you vape:
- For people with sensitivity to one of the main ingredients used in e-liquid, propylene glycol, there can be dry mouth, minor nose bleeding, and skin irritation.
- Users who choose excessive nicotine levels may experience dizziness.
- Some vaping enthusiasts have reported headaches in the past. That can be caused by excessive amounts of nicotine, or as a result of the dehydrating effect that propylene glycol creates in some users’ bodies.
- An increase in nicotine intake can make your body more sensitive to any caffeine you ingest.
- Inhaled vapor can also irritate some users’ lungs.
Side Effects Associated with Exposure to e-Liquid
Unlike the milder side effects some users experience with vaping, any exposure to liquid nicotine can be much more consequential. Nicotine is considered a toxin in its liquid form, and can cause harm from direct ingestion and contact with the skin. Those side effects can take a variety of forms:
- Some users experience an elevated heart rate and blood pressure.
- Others experienced nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, and even dizziness.
- In most severe cases, seizures can occur. Untreated, these effects can lead to a coma or even death.
- Low blood pressure, dramatically reduced heart rate, and non-responsiveness can be present in serious cases where ingestion has occurred.
- Children are at particular risk for toxic exposure, since many of the worst effects are directly related to nicotine concentration and the victim’s body weight.
Making Sense of it All
For users and other individuals curious about these devices and their effects on health, much of the fog of confusion created by so-called experts only serves to complicate the entire matter. The fact is that vaping can be dangerous when done improperly, and toxins like formaldehyde have been noted in vapor produced from devices that are operated at extreme temperatures. For the average user, however, such risks are all but nonexistent.
Instead, the milder side effects noted above are the rule for those who experience any ill effects at all. The most dangerous risks are associated with exposure to the nicotine in its liquid form, but those risks can be minimized with proper attention to handling and efforts to keep vaping products away from children and animals.
In the end, several facts ring clear: research has demonstrated that these products are far less dangerous than cigarettes, their side effects are either minimal or avoidable, and millions of users have relied on them to escape addiction to tobacco. All the government and pseudo-medical hype in the world cannot change those truths.