photo of an electronic cigarette, commonly called a vape

The Virginia Department of Health announced Monday that there have been three confirmed cases of severe lung illnesses tied to the use of e-cigarettes, also known as vaping. 

The issue is not isolated to Virginia; as of Aug. 22, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identified 193 potential cases of severe lung illness associated with vaping across 22 states. All patients reported vaping in the weeks or months before becoming sick.

On Aug. 23, an Illinois resident died after being hospitalized with severe respiratory illness associated with vaping.

The VDH also issued a reminder to parents to talk to their children about the dangers of vaping, especially since it’s back to school season. 

Since 2014, e-cigarettes have become the most commonly used tobacco product among middle and high school students in the United States, with the number using vaping products rising by 1.5 million from 2017 to 2018. 

Although e-cigarettes are frequently pitched as a less dangerous alternative to cigarettes, experts warn that using them still carries significant health risks.

Symptoms of vaping-related lung illness have included gradual onset of cough, shortness of breath, or fatigue, that gets worse over days or weeks until the patient has to be admitted to the hospital, the VDH said. Some patients have also reported vomiting and diarrhea.

The department also warned anyone who has a history of e-cigarette use and is experiencing these symptoms to seek medical attention immediately.

More information on the illness can be found at the Virginia Department of Health website.