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Your Healthy Family: The two biggest health concerns for youth from vaping

Posted at 8:56 AM, Sep 03, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-03 10:56:05-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — The dangers of vaping have been all over the news, as lung-injury hospitalizations of young people connected to vaping are on the rise. If you are a parent of a Colorado teen you should be concerned.

Dr. Grace Houser, MD and pediatric pulmonologist with Children’s Hospital Colorado, Colorado Springs says, “We know from statistics that nearly 50% of youth in Colorado have tried electronic cigarettes, at least once.”

Some parents may be aware that their kids vape, but their kids may think and/or be telling their parents they are just vaping flavored water, that is not harmful. To that Kevin McQueen, a respiratory therapist and the director of respiratory health for UCHealth in southern Colorado has a simple answer. “My answer to them is, don't believe it. These are nicotine delivery devices, and they are also drug delivery devices.”

McQueen is now on a mission to educate anyone who will listen to him, about the dangers of vaping including other health professionals. “When I'm talking to primary care physicians about this epidemic in our state their biggest concerns are two. One, what is the potential lung damage, and two is the adolescent addiction to nicotine at such a young age and what is it going to do to their brain as it's maturing and growing.”

Dr. Houser shares those exact concerns. “Inhaling nicotine specifically has significant harms on the adolescent developing brain, including difficulty with memory and with attention. We see both chronic changes in the lungs, in decline in lung function as well as what we are now calling vaping associated pulmonary injury.”

Dr. Houser also says education for parents and kids will be the key to solving this vaping epidemic. “I think the two misconceptions I see most often are either, ‘My kid isn't doing it.’ and then the other is the perception that it's not that bad for you.”

McQueen and his team at UCHealth want to share this important vaping presentation many more times and will do it free of charge. “I would like to get out to every school district in southern Colorado if we can. Pueblo, Colorado Springs - I have a whole team of people that are willing to come present the information so we can better educate people. I'd like to go talk to the teenagers just so they have an educated understanding that these (devices) are not completely safe, there are risks and they need to just be aware of it - then they can make their decisions. Any parent needs to step up and learn about it; even if their kid is not currently vaping they need to be aware and know what to look for.”

For more details on Kevin’s vaping presentation, and how you can schedule it for your school or organization you can email him at Kevin.McQueen@uchealth.org