MANCHESTER, N.H. – It may seem like the public health crisis of vaping- and e-cigarette-related lung injuries was long ago. Now, doctors are warning that those who vape may be susceptible to more severe illness from the novel coronavirus.
“It’s an additive problem. Now, you have some underlying injury to start with, then you get infected with a virus. Now, much worse things can happen,” Dr. James Flynn, a cardiologist at Catholic Medical Center in Manchester, New Hampshire, said.
A 2019 survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that one in three high school students are tobacco users. E-cigarettes were also the most commonly used tobacco product among high school and middle school students.
Dr. Flynn says that is a large group of people who may now have to worry about COVID-19.
“There’s the lung injury that we see that gets into the hospital that’s severe, but that’s probably just the tip of the iceberg. There’s probably 95% of kids doing that who have some lung injury,” Flynn said.
Plus, Flynn said, lung injuries from vaping and from the coronavirus look shockingly similar.
“It also muddies the waters in terms of diagnosis, which is a real problem because when someone comes in with e-cigarette- or vaping-associated lung injury, the chest X-ray and the CT scan can look exactly the same as a COVID-19 infection,” Flynn said, “One you might treat with steroids. The other one you don’t want to treat with steroids. There’s different ways you treat these problems.”
That is why Flynn says it continues to be important that young people quit vaping and take precautions against the coronavirus.