The 21st of June marks the beginning of Love Your Lungs Week and with 4.3 million people in the UK now vaping, Superdrug Online Doctor has explored how this popular source of nicotine is impacting our bodies.
According to Google search volumes one thousand more people search each month in the UK for “how to quit vaping” (3.8K searches) compared to “how to quit smoking” (2.8K searches), suggesting a rising number of people across the country are looking to give up e-cigarettes for good.
Dr Babak Ashrafi, a general practitioner, answers some crucial questions on smoking e-cigarettes, revealing how it is affecting our health and the best ways to approach quitting.
Why is vaping so addictive?
Like traditional cigarettes, vapes produce nicotine, a substance that, when it reaches your brain, releases neurotransmitters like dopamine, which are associated with pleasure and rewards. However, some electronic vapes can deliver nicotine more rapidly to the bloodstream compared to cigarettes, which can make them more addictive. When you become addicted to nicotine, stopping vaping will cause withdrawal symptoms such as irritability and anxiety. This, combined with the wider range of flavours available, has contributed to such a dramatic rise in vaping over the past few years.
What are the lesser-known health impacts of vaping?
It is common knowledge that smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer across the globe and also has detrimental risks to our cardiovascular health. However, there are other lesser-known health impacts linked to vaping.
In men, vaping may increase the risk of erectile dysfunction (ED) and reduce sperm quality. Vaping impacts your blood flow and endothelial function, which in turn can impact your ability to achieve and maintain an erection. Vaping has also been linked to reduced testosterone levels which can both lower libido and increase the risk of ED. Several studies have indicated that vaping may also have a negative impact on sperm quality, reducing sperm count and motility.
There is much more limited research on how vaping can impact women’s reproductive abilities outside of pregnancy. However, recent research has found that both smoking and vaping can cause irregular and more painful periods, whilst the toxins entering your body can potentially cause damage to ovarian follicles and diminish egg quality.
Vaping has also been linked to mental health issues, particularly among adolescents. Nicotine can temporarily improve mood and make you feel relaxed, however these are short-term effects which lead to dependence. Fluctuations in nicotine levels due to vaping can potentially impact mood regulation and increase anxiety. Vaping among adolescents has been a growing concern, with a recent report finding that there has been a 50% rise in teen vaping. Adolescence is a critical period for brain development, making younger people more susceptible to anxiety and stress as a result of withdrawals.
What are your top tips on attempting to quit vaping?
Researching the impacts of vaping and being aware of what it is doing to your body will make you more inclined to take these first steps to reduce your nicotine intake
Identifying your triggers is also key to beginning your journey to stopping vaping. Most people use smoking to relieve feelings of stress or anxiety. Pinpoint the causes of recurring stress and find alternative ways to relieve the temporary emotions such as taking a walk, talking to friends or even chewing gum.