Smoking is the main factor in developing COPD and many patients struggle with giving up smoking. E-cigarettes could be the way to help COPD give up and to improve their lung function and slow down the progression of their disease. Using oxygen to help improve your breathing is highly beneficial in coping with the disease but if you are still smoking then it is counter-acting the good work of the oxygen and other medications prescribed for you. However what are the facts and are they actually safe?
Electronic cigarettes are battery-powered devices filled with liquid nicotine that is dissolved in a solution of water and propylene glycol. They can look very similar to ordinary cigarettes or other designs are less conspicuous. Often termed as ‘vaping’ you take a puff, the battery heats up the nicotine which creates a vapour than you then inhale, resulting in a sensation similar to smoking but without the smoke.
You can smoke them indoors, they are closer to a nicorette inhaler than tobacco and there are many studies supporting the opinion that they do alleviate the desire to smoke. For those people that use them in conjunction with tobacco in order to cut down on their tobacco intake, they found that they managed to reduce their tobacco intake and not suffer from any withdrawal symptoms. They have worked for people who constantly fail at ceasing smoking via other conventional methods. An online survey revealed that 96% said that E-Cigarettes helped them to quit smoking, 92% said that it made them smoke less and the majority stated that they helped to fight cravings, cope with withdrawal symptoms and avoid relapsing.
However many feel that they are not regulated enough and lack essential health warnings, proper labeling and instructions and disposal methods. Some have been found to leak which may expose you to a toxic exposure of nicotine.
A study found that e-cigarettes caused accused pulmonary effects after smoking it for 5 mins. Healthy non-smokers were reported to suffer airway flow resistance and oxidative stress. The authors however also suggested that if they were only being used as a bridge to stop smoking then the benefits would outweigh the risks.
The FDA states that “E-cigarettes may contain ingredients that are known to be toxic to humans, and may contain other ingredients that may not be safe.” They also suggest that because e-cigarette manufacturers are not required to submit clinical study data to them, the public has no way of knowing “whether e-cigarettes are safe for their intended use, what types or concentrations of potentially harmful chemicals are found in these products, or how much nicotine they are inhaling when they use these products.” The FDA is also concerned that the marketing efforts of e-cigarettes may increase addiction to nicotine, especially in young people, encouraging them to experiment with real tobacco products.
It is important to stop smoking as a COPD patient, not only for your health but for your safety due to the use of supplemental oxygen and the dangers of smoking around oxygen tanks. However how you choose to quit is a matter of personal choice and everyone is different and will respond differently to the various methods that are available from nicotine gum/patches, quit smoking medications, support groups and educational materials as well as E-cigarettes. You have to decide what is safe and easiest for you and ask your doctor for help, advice and support.