Auburn professor: Flu season a major concern for those who vape

Published: October 10, 2019
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Auburn nursing professor Linda Gibson-Young studies vaping and the effects that electronic nicotine delivery systems can have on the lungs. As the number of deaths associated with vaping continues to rise, Gibson-Young said those who vape could face major challenges if they were to get the flu. Below, she provides additional information about the health complications she’s seen among people who vape.

When it comes to vaping, who is at risk? And what exactly does vaping do to the lungs?

The lungs are still developing until the age of 22, and when patients are introducing the electronic vapor into the lung tissue we are seeing significant concerns. The lung tissue is very thick and viscous, which is similar to a cystic fibrosis patient. This is all quite concerning considering flu season is right around the corner.

Why is thick mucus in the lungs a problem?

Having the thick mucus is problematic because it’s difficult to get rid of viruses, bacteria, and often harbors into what we term as pneumonia in the lung tissue.

How prevalent is this problem? Are hospitals really seeing an increase in patients because of vaping?

We are seeing hundreds of students, youth, college age patients coming into the emergency room because of respiratory distress, and when we collect that history, we’re seeing the use of electronic cigarettes. That’s concerning to us.

How much nicotine are people actually getting when they vape? Does it vary?

Our youth, especially those that are still learning and trying out new things, they inhale rather quickly, and before they know it they’ve already inhaled that entire Juul pod, which is equal to 20 cigarettes.

Media Contact

To arrange an interview with our expert, please contact Preston Sparks, Auburn University director of communications, at 334-844-9999 or