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Dangers of Vaping

What is vaping?

Vaping uses electronic cigarettes (or e-cigarettes) to simulate traditional cigarette smoking. E-cigarettes are battery-powered or chargeable smoking devices. Some look like traditional cigarettes or pipes. Others are designed to look like pens or USB memory sticks. They use a cartridge (or pod) filled with liquid. The liquid typically contains nicotine, flavorings, and other chemicals. When you puff on the mouthpiece of the device, it activates a heating element. This heats up the liquid in the pod and turns it into vapor. You then inhale the vapor. This is why it’s called “vaping.”

E-cigarettes are often marketed as a safer alternative to smoking. But they’re not safe. They still put an addictive drug and chemicals into your body and into the air around you.

teen girl vaping

How is vaping different from JUULing?

Vaping and JUULing are the same thing. JUUL (a brand of e-cigarettes that look like USB memory sticks) is a very popular vaping device among teenagers. So popular, in fact, that its brand name has become a verb to describe vaping. Teens may also use the term “ripping” to describe smoking an e-cigarette or JUUL. For more on JUULing and how it relates to teens, see “Teens and JUULing,” below.

Disputing common myths about e-cigarettes

The makers of e-cigarettes market them for a variety of uses. Researchers are still in the early stages of studying e-cigarettes. But studies have shown that e-cigarettes still contain harmful chemicals, including nicotine. Myths about e-cigarettes claim that the devices are:

  • E-Cigs are NOT a safer alternative to smoking cigarettes. Makers claim that e-cigarettes don’t contain the harmful chemicals that cigarettes do. Of course, this is not true. Most devices contain nicotine. A JUUL pod contains either 3% or 5% nicotine. A JUUL pod that contains 5% nicotine is equivalent to the amount of nicotine in one pack of cigarettes.
  • E-cigs are addictive. While there are some cartridges that don’t contain nicotine, most do. Any time a smoker inhales nicotine, he or she is inhaling an addicting and harmful chemical.
  • You cannot use e-cigs indoors. At first, makers of e-cigarettes said that e-cigarettes were appealing because they could be smoked in places that didn’t allow traditional cigarette smoking. This is no longer true. Many states have created laws that prohibit vaping in the same areas where traditional smoking is not allowed.
  • E-cigs are not really a way to quit smoking. Marketers claim it is easier to quit smoking if you switch to vaping first. In fact, e-cigarettes contain nicotine and may even lead to a user becoming a traditional cigarette smoker.

What are the dangers of vaping?

Experts have a number of concerns about the safety of e-cigarettes and vaping.

  • E-cigarettes contain nicotine. In large doses, nicotine can be toxic.
  • Nicotine stimulates your central nervous system. This increases your blood pressure, breathing, and heart rate. Higher doses of nicotine can cause blood pressure and heart rate to go up higher. This can lead to an abnormal heart rate (arrhythmia). In rare cases, this can cause heart failure or death. Over time, nicotine can lead to medical problems. These include heart disease, blood clots, and stomach ulcers.
  • Nicotine increases the level of dopamine in your brain. This chemical messenger affects the part of the brain that controls feelings of pleasure. It can motivate you to use nicotine again and again to get that feeling of pleasure. You do this even though you know it is a risk to your health and well-being. That is what makes nicotine addictive.
  • The ingredients in the liquid are not labeled. This means that we don’t know for sure what’s in the liquid.
  • There are often chemicals in the liquid. Some of these are known to cause cancer. One study found a toxic chemical that is found in antifreeze.
  • Tiny particles are released by the heating element and may be harmful. These particles can cause inflammation in the lungs, which can cause bacterial infections or pneumonia.
  • The liquid in the cartridge can be poisonous if someone touches, sniffs, or drinks it. There has been an increase in poisoning cases of children under 5 who have had access to the liquid.
  • “Secondhand smoke” is still a problem for e-cigarettes. Secondhand e-cigarette vapor contains chemicals that harm the lungs and hearts of people who aren’t vaping.
  • They serve as an introductory product for preteens and teens. Many kids start with vaping and then move on to other tobacco products.
  • Right now, there is little regulation when it comes to e-cigarettes. Even if it isn’t a JUUL product, there are many other kinds of e-cigarettes available. Doctors do not know what may be in them.

Teens and JUULing

E-cigarettes are popular among teens and are now the most commonly used form of tobacco among youth in the United States, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. As of August, 2018, JUUL accounts for an estimated 71 percent of the teen e-cigarette market. Reasons for this include:

Teenagers face increased risks from JUULs/e-cigarettes. The teen years are a critical time in brain development. This puts young people uniquely at risk for long-lasting effects. Nicotine affects the development of brain circuits that control attention and learning. It puts kids at higher risk of having mood disorders and permanent problems with impulse control. It also affects the development of the brain’s reward system. This can make other, more dangerous, drugs more pleasurable to a teen’s developing brain.

Kids who use e-cigs like JUULs are also more likely to become smokers than kids who do not, according to a three-year study. The study followed high school students as they transitioned from e-cigarettes to traditional ones.

There is much still to be learned about e-cigarettes and vaping. Since it’s relatively new, there aren’t long-term studies on the effects it may have. Until these long-term effects are known, doctors are encouraging patients to avoid e-cigarettes.

How do I talk to my child about JUULing?

If you suspect your child is JUULing (and even if you don’t), ask him or her about it. Start a conversation. Ask if they’ve seen friends doing it or seen JUULing at school. Use this opportunity to tell them the dangers of JUULing. JUULing is addictive. JUULing has been shown to lead to smoking. Smoking causes cancer, heart disease, and emphysema. Smoking is responsible for 1 in 5 deaths in the United States.

What if my child is already JUULing?

Talk to your child about quitting. Make an appointment for you and your child to talk to your family doctor about the best ways to quit JUULing. Your doctor may suggest a plan that includes some of the FDA-approved elements for smoking cessation listed below.

Things to consider

The FDA has approved 7 medications for smoking cessation in adults. These include nicotine gum, nicotine patches, and medicines. (Vaping is not one of the 7 approved methods.) There is little evidence that these same tactics will work for vaping.  If you are trying to stop vaping, here are some tips to consider:

  • Talk to your doctor. He or she may be able to suggest nicotine replacement therapy. They also may be able to prescribe medicines to help you quit.
  • Make a plan. Set a date to begin the quitting process. Set goals as part of your process. These can be as small as having one less e-cigarette a day for a week. Then you can continue to cut back on a schedule until you no longer smoke or vape.
  • Stay busy. Keep your mind off smoking by keeping busy. Do activities with your hands to keep them ovvupied. Plan ahead for times when you know you’ll want to smoke, such as after a meal or when you go out.
  • Put off cravings. Cravings can be hard to resist, but they usually pass. Tell yourself to wait until a certain time, and the urge to smoke will often be gone by then.
  • Get support. Surround yourself with people who support you. Tell your friends and family that you are quitting so they can be supportive. If you don’t want anyone to know you smoke or vape, join an online or in-person support group.

Questions to ask your doctor

  • Can I quit JUULing cold turkey?
  • Is there any sort of nicotine replacement I could try while quitting JUUL? Do you recommend this?
  • How long should it take me to quit JUULing?

Continue reading “Dangers of Vaping”

Viral Gastroenteritis aka ‘Stomach Bug’

It seems the stomach bug is around, so what are the signs? 

What are the symptoms of viral gastroenteritis?

Gastroenteritis is typically cause by a virus and symptoms usually begin about 1 to 2 days after the virus gets into the body.

Common symptoms include:

  • Nausea
  • VomitingWoman holding stomach in pain
  • Watery diarrhea

Other possible symptoms are:

  • Mild Headache
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Stomachache

Signs of dehydration:

  • Decreased urine output
  • Dark-colored urine
  • Dry skin
  • Thirst
  • Dizziness

Signs of dehydration in young children:

  • Dry diapers (from a lack of urination)
  • Lack of tears
  • Dry mouth
  • Drowsiness
  • Sunken fontanel (the soft spot on the top of an infant’s head)

How is viral gastroenteritis diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will most likely diagnose your condition based on your history and symptoms. You will rarely need testing. If your symptoms persist, your healthcare provider may ask for a stool sample to look for viruses, bacteria, and parasites.

Can viral gastroenteritis be prevented?

You and your children can help prevent viral gastroenteritis by taking these steps:

  • Wash hands for 20 seconds with soap and water after going to the bathroom, after changing a diaper, and before touching any food.
  • Use alcohol-based sanitizers.
  • If someone in the house has gastroenteritis, wash all surfaces that might be contaminated with a bleach-based cleaner.

How is viral gastroenteritis treated?

In most cases, you simply need to drink plenty of fluids and rest at home until the virus leaves your system. In rare cases, you may need treatment for severe dehydration, with IV (intravenous) fluids.

Helpful home care tips include:

  • Drink plenty of light fluids like water, ice chips, fruit juice, and broth. Keep in mind that sports drinks are high in sugar and are not appropriate if you are extremely dehydrated. In this case, you will need an oral rehydration solution.
  • Avoid drinks that contain milk, caffeine, and alcohol.
  • Once you feel hungry again, start with mild, easy to digest foods. (BRAT Diet – Bananas Rice Apples Toast)
  • Rehydrate children with oral rehydration solutions.

When should I call my healthcare provider?

Viral gastroenteritis is common in children and adults. In most cases, the disease is not serious and will run its course in a few days. Call your healthcare provider if you or a family member has vomiting or diarrhea that’s not getting better, worsening abdominal pain, if you see blood or tar-like stool, or if you have any signs of dehydration.

If your doctor is unable to see you, you can be seen at one of ExpressCare locations in Andover or Riverwalk/ Lawrence.  Visit www.pmaonline.com/expresscare to learn more or to schedule an appointment online.

Fifteen Benefits of Drinking Water

Keeping hydrated is crucial for health and well-being, but many people do not consume enough fluids each day. Around 60 percent of the body is made up of water, and around 71 percent of the planet’s surface is covered by water.

Perhaps it is the ubiquitous nature of water that means drinking enough each day is not at the top of many people’s lists of priorities.

Continue reading “Fifteen Benefits of Drinking Water”

How to Prevent Sport Injuries in Children

Sports may be fun for kids and parents, but accidents happen. Around one in three children in the US who participate in sports will miss a game this year due to a sports-related injury. How can you minimize your child’s risk of injury at the next game? Here are some ideas to keep in mind:

Continue reading “How to Prevent Sport Injuries in Children”

Plugged In

Couple sitting at table on phonesAccording to a New York Times report, both teens and adults check their smartphones 150 times per day (or every six minutes), and send an average of 110 texts per day.

For many teenagers these days, texting is passé, so they have upgraded to platforms like Snapchat and Instagram—suggesting that these numbers may not represent actual usage.

In a study at the University of Maryland as part of The World Unplugged project, researchers evaluated students from 10 different countries. They found that the clear majority experienced distress when they went without their cell phones for a mere 24 hours.   In another large-scale study evaluating more than 2,500 college students, 60 percent of them admitted being addicted to their cell phone. 

With 83 percent of Americans owning a cell phone, let’s face it, they are here to stay.

Learning how to manage the risks, particularly with our children in mind, is one of America’s new challenges.

Technological Takeover

Studies suggest that excessive online activities are linked to sleep, learning, social, psychological, and focus disorders, as well as violence.

A recent Huffington Post article reported the following in regards to teenage girls:

  • Most teens are on their phones all the time—in school, in bed at night, when they go to the bathroom, while you are trying to talk to them, and while they are  trying to do their homework.
  •  They are in instant access with each other all the time—living in a perpetual state of staccato interruptions.
  • There are virtually no enforceable societal or parental controls short of depriving a child of a phone, which then subjects them to rejection from their real and virtual friends.
  •  The popularity contests of childhood are online now, and they revolve around how many “likes” you get. A low number of “likes” typically translates into low social status, and can subject you to shaming and bullying. A high number of “likes” translates to popularity and often induces pressure to sustain your status.

 

More Teen Statistics

·         92 percent of teens go online daily, and 24 percent say they are online “almost constantly.”

·         76 percent of teens use social media (81 percent of older teens, 68 percent of teens ages 13 and 14).

·         71 percent of teens use Facebook, 52 percent use Instagram, 41 percent use Snapchat, 33 percent use Twitter.

·         77 percent of parents say their teens get distracted by their devices and don’t pay attention when they’re together.

·         59 percent of parents say they feel their teen is addicted to their mobile device.

·         50 percent of teens say they feel addicted to their mobile device    

The consensus is that technology is here to stay and it is all about finding balance, maximizing the good in technology, and minimizing the bad. We cannot live in a bubble pretending it does not exist.

So what can parents do?

Here are some strategies to help manage the technological human experiment.

1.     When the kids come home from school, give them some free cell phone screen time.

2.     When homework starts, the cells phones are left charging in a different room, like the kitchen or bathroom.

3.     When they finish their homework, if it’s before bed time, they can check in on their phones until it’s bed time.

4.     No cell phone use during meals, at restaurants, or in the car. In certain cases, some exceptions are made here.

5.     No TV during the school week. In certain cases, some exceptions are made, but they are rare.

6.     Phones and tablets are plugged in at night in the kitchen or bathroom, not in the bedroom.

7.     Try turning off the Wi-Fi connection in the house at 10 p.m.

8.     Middle schools, high schools, and now some elementary schools give iPads to the students, which makes these rules tricky. Solution: no social media apps
their school iPad and, of course, parental controls on everything. It is surprising how many kids have full access to the internet in middle school.

9.     Break any of these rules and they lose their phone for 24 hours. No argument, no discussion, no emotion. This rule works amazingly well!

 

More tools: Personalize Your Own Family Media Plan

The American Academy of Pediatrics has developed a very cool online guide to developing a personalized plan for your family and kids of all ages.

 

Article excerpts: Author: Dr. John Douillard/ Elephant Journal August 2017

 

Summer Safety Tips and Water Safety

 

School is out and kids everywhere are throwing on their swimsuits and heading out to the pool or beach for a fun afternoon in the sun. Water also can be dangerous for kids if parents/caregivers do not  take the proper precautions. Nearly 1,000 kids die each year by drowning; with most happening in  home swimming pools.

It is the second leading cause of accidental death for people between the ages of 5 and 24. So knowing how to stay safe is key- below are some helpful guidelines: 

https://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/at-play/Pages/Summer-Safety-Tips-Sun-and-Water-Safety.aspx

 

Ensure Your Child Gets Enough Sleep This Summer

It’s almost summer time, school is soon out of session, and your child will gain a lot of extra free time. This is a cycle parents will go through for a number of years, so it’s important to make the most of that time for both you and your child. While being active during the day can certainly help children, having a sufficient amount of sleep each night is equally as important. Is your child getting enough sleep?

Continue reading “Ensure Your Child Gets Enough Sleep This Summer”