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Electronic Cigarettes And Your Health

AMBULATORY CARE:

An electronic cigarette (e-cigarette)

is an electronic device that changes liquid nicotine into vapor. You can inhale the vapor. An e-cigarette contains a cartridge with liquid nicotine and a device that changes the liquid into vapor. It also contains a battery. E-cigarettes are often used to help a person quit smoking cigarettes. However, e-cigarettes still contain nicotine, and may not be the safest way to quit smoking.

Seek care immediately if:

  • You or your child has signs or symptoms of nicotine poisoning.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You would like to quit using e-cigarettes or tobacco and need help to quit.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Health risks of using an e-cigarette:

  • Nicotine is a highly addictive drug found in e-cigarettes. Withdrawal symptoms can happen when you quit using e-cigarettes. This can make it hard to quit using them. Examples of withdrawal symptoms include anxiety, depression, irritability, trouble sleeping, and increased appetite.
  • Nicotine from e-cigarettes can cause high blood pressure, an increased heartbeat, or an irregular heartbeat. Over time, nicotine may increase your risk for heart disease, blood clots, and stomach ulcers.
  • E-cigarettes may contain chemicals and heavy metals. Over time, these chemicals and metals may cause cancer or other illnesses. The chemicals may also worsen lung conditions such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
  • The batteries used in e-cigarettes may be dangerous. Some batteries have exploded or caught on fire, even when they are not being used.
  • Too much nicotine may lead to poisoning. You may get too much nicotine by inhaling the vapor or by spilling nicotine on your skin. Nicotine poisoning can cause heart failure and other life-threatening problems.

Health risks to others if you use an e-cigarette:

  • The vapor from e-cigarettes contains nicotine and chemicals that cause cancer. This can make it harmful for those who breathe it in. Do not smoke an e-cigarette indoors or in your car. Do not smoke near babies or children.
  • Children are at higher risk for nicotine poisoning than adults. This is because children need smaller doses of nicotine to cause poisoning. Children can get nicotine poisoning from using an e-cigarette, breathing secondhand vapor, or if nicotine liquid gets onto their skin. A child is at risk for life-threatening poisoning if he or she swallows even a small amount of liquid nicotine.
  • If you use an e-cigarette during pregnancy, the nicotine can damage your unborn baby's heart and lungs. Nicotine can also prevent your baby from growing and developing correctly. Your baby may be born early or weigh less than normal for his or her age at birth. Do not use an e-cigarette during pregnancy to help you quit smoking. Instead, ask your healthcare provider for safer ways to help you quit.

Safer ways to help you quit smoking:

  • Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) such as nicotine patches, gum, or lozenges may help reduce your nicotine cravings. You may get these without a doctor's order.
  • Counseling from a trained healthcare provider can provide you with support and skills to quit smoking. The provider will also teach you to manage your withdrawal symptoms and cravings. You may receive counseling from one counselor, in group therapy, or through phone therapy called a quit line.
  • Prescription medicines such as nasal sprays or nicotine inhalers may help reduce your withdrawal symptoms. Other medicines may also be used to reduce your urge to smoke. Ask your healthcare provider about these medicines. You may need to start certain medicines 2 weeks before your quit date for them to work well.
  • Hypnosis is a practice that helps guide you through thoughts and feelings. Hypnosis may help decrease your cravings and make you more willing to quit.
  • Acupuncture therapy uses very thin needles to balance energy channels in the body. This is thought to help decrease cravings and symptoms of nicotine withdrawal.
  • Support groups let you talk to others who are trying to quit or have already quit. It may be helpful to speak with others about how they quit.

What you can do to help prevent your child or adolescent from using an e-cigarette:

Children and adolescents can easily buy e-cigarettes in stores or online. E-cigarettes contain many flavors such as mint, vanilla, and coffee. Your child may think e-cigarettes are more like candy instead of something harmful. The following may help prevent your child or adolescent from using an e-cigarette:

  • Talk to your child or adolescent about the risks of using an e-cigarette. He or she may not know that e-cigarettes can harm his or her health. Tell your child or adolescent about the signs and symptoms of nicotine poisoning.
  • Encourage your child or adolescent to use NRT. This includes the use of gum, patches, or lozenges. Talk to your child about withdrawal symptoms, and explain that they will go away.
  • Do not use e-cigarettes in front of your child or adolescent. Your child or adolescent may copy your behavior. Instead, use other ways to quit smoking.
  • Help your child or adolescent manage stress. Stress may increase his or her use of e-cigarettes or regular cigarettes. Encourage him or her to talk to someone he or she trusts about stress. Encourage him or her to exercise or play sports to help manage stress. Make sure he or she gets plenty of sleep and eats healthy foods. Healthy foods include fruits, vegetables, whole-grain breads, low-fat dairy products, beans, lean meats, and fish.

Signs and symptoms of nicotine poisoning:

  • Vomiting
  • A fast heartbeat
  • Restlessness or anxiety
  • Trouble breathing or shortness of breath
  • Increased saliva

What to do if you think you have nicotine poisoning or your child has nicotine poisoning:

Call the Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222 immediately.

Get more information and support to quit smoking:

  • Smokefree.gov
    Phone: 1- 800 - 784-8669
    Web Address: www.smokefree.gov

© 2018 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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