There are a lot of drugs out there, and some are certainly more dangerous than others, particularly when it comes to addiction potential. Cigarettes and nicotine have been a source of millions of deaths and countless millions more affected by the loss of their loved ones. But cigarettes have always found a way to reinvent themselves and become more attractive to new demographics, even those that would normally avoid cigarettes because they are too unhealthy.
Recently, however, there has been a push toward alternatives to cigarettes that don’t involve inhaling hot smoke from burning plant matter. People love the action of smoking, but smoking itself has long been known to cause a significant array of side effects, illnesses, and chronic conditions. This is where the new trend of using a nicotine-free vape to get the same feeling without the harmful chemicals is but is it any safer?
We’re going to take a look at what exactly a nicotine-free vape is, how it works, and what makes it so popular lately. Then we’ll explore all of the potential risks and side-effects from using a nicotine-free vape, and how eventually kicking the nicotine-free vape habit will be better for your overall health. Finally, we’ll touch on what exactly you should do if you or someone you love may be facing negative side-effects from their nicotine-free vape, and how to get help from an expert.
What Is Nicotine-Free Vape & Why Has It Become So Popular?
A nicotine-free vape is a device that heats a solution of propylene glycol, glycerin, and other additives, forming a vapor that is then inhaled. They are used as a vehicle for countless flavors, both with nicotine and without, and have become incredibly popular recently for people that are looking for an alternative to smoking cigarettes that is supposedly “healthier”. This myth of the nicotine-free vape being a healthier alternative to cigarettes is based largely on the assumption that most of the harm from cigarettes comes from the hot smoke created by the burning plant matter. In this situation, a nicotine-free vape is technically healthier since it doesn’t create smoke under ordinary circumstances, but they still have some significant health concerns.
One of the biggest problems with nicotine-free vapes is that recently they have become so popular, especially among the younger crowd, such as teens. Many of the nicotine-free vape devices look “cool” and high-tech, resembling a USB drive or futuristic “pod”, and are very easily concealed. Since they are also much easier to covertly use in areas where you normally wouldn’t be able to light a cigarette, they have also become a favorite amongst those who use them to vape where smoking and vaping aren’t allowed.
Just as the devices are designed to appeal to trendy youth culture, and resemble high-tech toys to appeal to younger and more impulsive markets, the nicotine-free vape is also seen being used by many celebrities featured in media. This reinforces the illusion that the nicotine-free vape is safer or better for you.
What Are The Risks & Side-Effects of Using Nicotine-Free Vape?
Even though a nicotine-free vape doesn’t contain any significant amount of nicotine, there are still some substantial risks involved in using one, as well as some possibly painful or dangerous side effects. Since the liquid that is used in most vapes or e-cigarettes is made from propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin, flavors, and other chemicals, even though there isn’t any nicotine there are still a lot of foreign substances that are being inhaled.
Glycerin and glycol are both known to cause noticeable irritation in the upper airway, which can end up being the cause of a persistent cough. There are some studies by epidemiological bodies that have linked the use of a nicotine-free vape or e-cigarette to an increase in the overall occurrence of dry mouth, gum irritation, and forms of gum disease. They also come with a substantial list of possible negative side-effects that come with every use, including:
- Reduced sense of taste
- Bronchial spasms
- Burning sensation in the throat
- Persistent itchiness of the mouth, lips, or tongue
- A scratchy feeling in the lips, mouth, or throat
- Cough that will not go away after 1-2 weeks
- Dizziness that can get more severe after standing up
- Irregular heart rate
- Drowsiness or sleepiness
- Shortness of breath or shallow breathing
- Difficulty breathing due to aggravation of existing conditions like asthma, emphysema, or COPD
The long-term effects of vaping are still relatively unknown because the technology is still fairly emergent. It was initially designed to deliver flavor and effect without the harshness and irritation caused by hot smoke, but the safety is still up in the air. Some data shows indication that the long-term effects on the lungs may be irreversible after a certain point.
There is also the risk that certain chemicals or additives in nicotine-free vape juice can contribute to health issues or cause some of their own. There are many causes of a condition called “popcorn lung” that have occurred because someone used a nicotine-free vape that was adulterated with a particular additive, cutting agent, or another compound that was not safe to vaporize. Once the chemical is vaporized and inhaled it causes irreversible damage from tissue on the inside of the lung turning to scar tissue.
With the lung tissues damaged, the lungs’ ability to deliver oxygen-rich blood to the rest of the body has been permanently reduced. This can lead to lifelong physical limitations, becoming ill with respiratory conditions easier, and even potentially having to require oxygen at some point. This is a possible effect of using a nicotine-free vape.
Additional long-term side-effects of using a nicotine-free vape include not only lung damage, but rapid onset of persistent coughing, difficulties in normal breathing, and diarrhea. There have even been reports of unexpected weight loss, which can be medically concerning if it happens too quickly, as well as reports of nausea and vomiting.
Other possible dangers of a nicotine-free vape include impacting the young, developing brains of their target market. It’s been shown that kids are more susceptible to addiction and that products like the nicotine-free vape are marketed toward them, leading to much easier development of addiction.
Why Giving Up Nicotine-Free Vape Can Benefit Your Health & Well-Being
When it comes down to it, vaping may seem like a safe alternative to smoking, but there are several reasons that it is not as safe of activity as many people assume it to be. Unfortunately, since vaping is so new, there haven’t been many studies showing the long-term effect it can have on people. We do know that there are unpleasant chemicals that can cause irritation, inflammation, and possibly cancer.
Giving up vaping can make a huge impact on your overall health. Just 20 minutes after your last hit, cardiovascular improvements begin. Your blood pressure will go down as your heart rate and circulation begin to normalize. A day after quitting, the risk of heart attack begins to drop. The oxygen levels in the blood rise, which reduces the formation of blood clots.
If you weren’t aware of this, one of the commonalities between smoking and vaping is that they impact your senses and limit your ability to taste and smell things. Just 48 hours after you stop vaping, your senses begin to improve. And just a month after quitting, the coughing and shortness of breath get better, as your lung capacity improves. Another 2 months (3 months after quitting), and your blood circulation will have improved due to blood vessels returning to their usual size.
Once you hit the 9-month mark, your lungs will have healed enough to fight infections once again. After you have your 1st anniversary from when you quit, you’ll be able to take comfort in knowing your cardiovascular risk has been cut in half, including your risk of a heart attack. The number of health improvements that happen in the first year alone is amazing. If you’ve found yourself addicted to vaping, it’s never a bad time to quit.
How To Get Help If Addicted To Using Nicotine or Nicotine-Free Vape
Whether you vape with nicotine or not, vaping is an activity that comes with a long list of potential dangers, including the inhalation of unknown chemicals, as well as the risk of dependence or addiction. Many people choose to vape as the lesser of two evils between that and smoking tobacco, but because it’s still relatively new, there hasn’t been enough research done on the safety of vaping, so it’s hard to say how bad it is.
If you’ve been vaping for a while and have developed a dependence or addiction, you are not alone. With 1 in 20 Americans using a vape, chances are you know someone who is also struggling. The good news is, help is available. All you need to do is reach out to one of the professional recovery programs that are designed to help addicts truly recover. They help get them through the detox process, as well as provide therapy to get down to the root cause of their addiction, identify triggers that could potentially cause relapse, and provide them with coping mechanisms to help them move forward.