Issue of December 8, 2019
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Doctor explains risks of vaping
by Hanna C. Lacsamana

Health authorities warn the public on the harmful effects of using electronic cigarettes or vape products, saying that the World Health Organization has introduced a new International Classification of Diseases (ICD) code to be used immediately for reporting of acutely ill patients who have e-cigarettes for a certain period.

Dr. Maria Lowella de Leon of the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center said more than 2,000 cases of e-cigarette/vaping associated lung injuries, or e-VALI, have been recorded in the United States alone, and in November, the first case of e-VALI has been recorded in the Philippines in the person of a 16-year-old female from Visayas who had used vape for six months.

Contrary to claims, de Leon explained e-cigarettes and vaping products are not safe and could in fact aggravate lung problems.

Further, these products contain chemicals and ingredients, and despite claims that these have contents like coconut oil and other supposedly healthy raw materials, it is still smoke taken into one’s system that affects air passage and breathing.

Kahit anong nakalagay dito, kahit sabihin pa nilang nilalagyan pa nila ng coconut oil or apple essence, nakakaapekto pa rin ito sa pag-hinga, kaya basically hindi pa rin ito safe and hindi pa rin ito dapat ginagamit,” de Leon said.

She added that although there have been no cases in the country yet, studies in the U.S. revealed that certain drugs have been included as among the substances of vape products. One of them may be tetrahydrocannabinol or cannabis oil, with which most of the e-VALIs recorded were associated.

“It is not guaranteed that vaping and electronic cigarettes are okay (to use). And it is not a substitute for cigarette, to lessen our cigarette use,” de Leon said.

She said as an awareness campaign for patients including doctors, health authorities advise people who have recurrent cough and complaining of productive cough like asthma and have been using e-cigarette or vapes to immediately consult their doctor because it is already reported by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and WHO that there is an increasing prevalence of e-VALI.

WHO has introduced ICD 10 Code U07.0, an international tool for classifying and monitoring diseases, to be used immediately for reporting of acutely ill patients who have used e-cigarettes in the last 90 days, with no plausible causes for illness.

In support, Department of Health Sec. Francisco Duque III in October has urged all government and private hospitals, clinics, and other health facilities to use proper codes for designating vaping-related disorders; and for health and allied health professionals to be vigilant in identifying risks during clinical evaluations by taking the history of tobacco use and use of e-cigarettes or vapes in all patients.

Pres. Rodrigo Duterte has also recently declared vaping, aside from cigarette smoking, in public places illegal.

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