With the increased report of youth from middle school on up using vape, many parents are wondering “Is my child using vape?”
Dr. Natasha Burgert, a pediatrician with Pediatrics Associates in Kansas City, Missouri, was a recent contributor to US News and World Report article on the topic of youth and vaping. Dr. Burgert reports that the use of e-cigarettes at schools in the local area is at epidemic levels. This reflects the patterns currently seen at schools across the nation. The most popular device being used is JUUL. JUUL is a device that looks like a flash drive. It utilizes pods that contain “juice” containing 50 mg of nicotine and flavoring. When used, each pod is equivalent to 200 puffs of a traditional cigarette or 1 pack. The vapor leaves little odor or residue, devices are “discreet”, making it difficult to detect use. Young brains are very vulnerable to becoming addicted to all drugs, nicotine included.
So how can I tell if my child is using e-cigarettes? Dr. Burgert gave these 7 signs that may indicate your child is vaping.
7 Signs To Look For
- Increased thirst. The process of vaping removes hydration from the skin of the mouth and throat which leaves users with a dry, flat palate. The body then craves liquids to combat dehydration. If you see your child heavily increasing their liquid consumption (and also peeing more), they may be vaping.
- Desire for flavor. Have you seen your teen reaching for the salt at dinner time or enjoying unusually spicy foods? This may be an indicator your teen is vaping. The key to enjoying flavorful foods is moisture and because vaping leaves users with a dry mouth, food can become less flavorful. This even has a name: “vaper’s tongue.”
- Nosebleeds. Just like vaping dries the mouth, it dries the skin of the nose as well. When the nose gets dry, it can bleed.
- Acne. Vaping may affect the skin around the mouth. If your teen has been experiencing acne breakouts near the mouth and chin on otherwise a clear face, this may be a sign they are vaping.
- Cutting back on caffeine. Has your teen recently cut back on their latte consumption? It could be the nicotine. The combination of vaping and caffeine can cause anxiety and severe mood swings. To avoid these side effects many users will cut back on their caffeine.
- Pneumonia. Research suggests that outside of the problems with nicotine exposure, there are nanoparticles present in e-cig vapor that cause inflammation in the lungs. When lungs get inflamed, it can lead to pockets of bacterial infection and cause pneumonia.
- Finding unfamiliar USB drives, battery chargers or spare parts. E-cig devices have many parts that need to exchanged and replaced. The most common parts are spare wires, cotton balls and small containers (“pods”) that contain e-juice. Another thing to be on the lookout for is unfamiliar USB drives. JUUL, the most popular e-cig device, look like a USB drive and many parents could be fooled into thinking that’s what they are looking at. If you start noticing your teen carrying an unfamiliar tech device or if you notice unusual items in their trash can, it would be good to ask your child about them.
What Can You Do?
What can you do as a parent? Talk to your child about the risks of nicotine addiction and the fact that there is no long term studies on the health outcomes of e-cigarettes. Watch for the signs Dr. Burgert lists, and intervene if necessary.