ARKANSAS (KFSM) — The Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) is warning Arkansans who use electronic smoking devices, e-cigarettes or vapes about the risk of potential lung illness after four cases are reported in the Natural State.
Arkansas currently has four suspected cases of vaping-related lung disease under investigation.
Other states have reported over 200 cases of lung disease along with one death. The reports reach across the country, including Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Utah, California and New York.
The products smokers are consuming could include a number of substances such as nicotine, flavorings, THC, synthetic cannabinoids or a combination of things.
Symptoms of lung illness may include shortness of breath, chest pain, coughing and fatigue. Some patients have reported fever, nausea and diarrhea.
The ADH says symptoms may worsen over days and weeks and anyone who is experiencing any type of chest pain or difficulty breathing after vaping should seek medical attention.
Of the confirmed cases, all patients had vaped in the weeks and month leading up to their hospitalization.
“We are encouraging clinicians from across the state to reach out to ADH if they encounter patients with this illness and a history of vaping to help us better track, treat, and understand these illnesses,” said Dr. Appathurai Balamurugan (Dr. Bala), ADH Deputy Chief Medical Officer and State Chronic Disease Director. “We suspect there are cases that have not been reported yet.”
According to the ADH, vaping cartridges can contain the same amount of nicotine as a pack of cigarettes. The ADH also says that nicotine harms the developing brain, which is not fully developed until a person is in their mid-20s.
Investigations are ongoing to determine the possible cause of illnesses by testing patients and vaping products.
Since vaping is still relatively new, the long-term side effects are still being researched.
Those interested in quitting tobacco and nicotine can call Be Well Arkansas at 833-283-WELL (9355). Wellness counselors help Arkansans quit tobacco through coaching and providing nicotine replacement therapy at no cost.
The wellness counselors are available on weekdays, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.