Vapers And Hookah Customers Should Be Mindful That They May Be At A Greater Risk For Nose Diseases

Penn Medicine

Those who exhale the smoke through their nose may expose themselves more to a variety of health risks that differ from those who smoke cigarettes actual cigarettes. Items such as e-cigarettes, electronic hookahs, and vape pens allow people to inhale a certain vapor that contains nicotine, flavorings, solvents, and other chemicals, and these can pose a danger to their wellbeing.

People have tried to quit smoking and have gone for e-cigarettes and hookahs instead. In reality, these may pose a higher risk of inflammation and cancers of the nose, sinuses, and throat. Why? It may be because of the way they exhale when they use the device instead of an actual cigarette. The findings are elaborated in a new study made by a team of expert researchers.

They discovered how vapers and hookah users are more than twice as likely to exhale the dangerous particles out of their nose. Even more so than traditional smoking because this forces them to normally exhale the emissions via the mouth.

“This matters because the way vapers and hookah smokers use their devices may expose the nose and sinuses to far more emissions than cigarettes, which may in turn increase their risk of upper respiratory diseases,” stated Emma Karey, PhD, the study’s lead author. She’s also a postdoctoral research fellow in the department of environmental medicine at NYU Langone Health in New York City.

The findings of the study have been published last February 28 in the Tobacco Use Insights journal.


There are about 1 in 6 Young Adults Who Regularly Use a Vape

Electronic cigarettes (what is popularly referred to as e-cigarettes), electronic hookahs (e-hookahs), and vape pens make it easier for the user to inhale a vapor that that could have nicotine, flavorings, solvents, and other chemicals in it. These e-cigarettes and e-hookahs are sold in a variety of shapes. You’ll see some as cigarettes, pipes, pens, USB sticks, cartridges, and refillable tanks, pods, and mods.

Still, cigarette are still more popular than vaping. Around 16 percent of adults in the U.S. smoke. The numbers are still high when compared to the 6 percent who have said that they vaped, including using e-cigarettes. This was stated in the July 2021 Gallup poll.

Vaping, on the other hand, has gained popularity in certain groups such as the following:

  • Young adults between the ages of 18 to 29 most likely use vape as 17 percent of them have said that they vape regularly.
  • Americans that have an annual household income of less than $40,000 are significantly more likely when compared to the higher income groups to say they use vapes and e-cigarettes.
  • Americans who don’t hold a college degree are twice as likely as college graduates to vape on regular basis. The respective rates of which are 7 percent and 3 percent.


Vapers and Hookah Users Are More Likely to Exhale the Smoke via the Nose

The researchers wanted to investigate the matter further. They looked deeper into how people used e-cigarettes, vaping devices, and hookahs. In order to do so, the researchers discreetly observed a total of 122 cigarette smokers and 123 vapers on the streets of New York City. This was conducted between March 2018 and February 2019. They also monitored a total of 96 folks who smoked inside two Manhattan hookah bars.

They put their findings together and saw that 63 percent of vapers and 50 percent of hookah users exhaled through their noses. On the other hand, only 22 percent of e-cigarette users had done this.  The investigators of the research also found that more than 70 percent of pod-like devices users exhaled through their nose at some point when they monitored them closely. On the other hand, a total of 50 percent of modular tank–style users did just that.

Dr. Karey also explained this problem and stressed on the fact that those who use the new device can have a tendency to exhale through the nose. It’s easy and these come in a variety of flavors, among which are pineapple, bubblegum, and blue raspberry. “Vapers may be more likely to exhale through their nose because scent enhances taste,” she shared.


Exhaling Through the Nose May Be Connected to a Higher Risk for Inflammation and Disease

In a similar study related to this topic, the researchers found more damage in the nasal passages of smokers who used vapes and hookah. In fact, the users had around 10 times higher inflammation than those who used normal cigarettes.

“This type of sustained inflammation is where we start to become concerned with pathologies and diseases; it suggests there may be sustained injury to that tissue,” said Karey.

The connection between the smoking practices and their potential health risks has already been observed. Study’s senior author, Terry Gordon, PhD, a professor in the department of environmental medicine at NYC Langone Health, said, “For example, when people smoke cigars, they don’t inhale as deeply, and they get more oral cancers compared with cigarette smokers, who inhale more deeply.”

The findings that have been made are already in line with what is already known about the many risks that comes with it, said Adam Goldstein, MD, MPH. He is a professor in the UNC department of family medicine and the director of tobacco intervention programs at the UNC School of Medicine in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. He was not part of the new research, but has been studying the same issue.

“We have already known for a long time that combustible tobacco products, like cigarettes, water pipes, and cigars, cause multiple cancers in multiple different organs of the body, including elevated risks for cancers related to nasal sinuses. These cancer-causing agents enter the bloodstream and tissues of most every organ,” said Goldstein.

Although vaping is likely safer than combustible tobacco, at least in laboratory studies, that doesn’t mean it’s safe, he says. “Vaping exposes users to many toxic chemicals. Regardless of how they’re smoked, smoking products like hookah are deadly to the user as well as those exposed to secondhand hookah smoke,” says Goldstein.


The Newer Set of Smoking Device Can Bring In a Variety of Health Risks More than Cigarettes

There are new smoking devices that people can use now: e-cigarettes, vaping pens, and hookahs, these can carry a different type of risk. These, of course, depend on how they are being utilized, said Karey. “The most important health endpoints may no longer be a ‘one-size-fits-all’ for these new and emerging alternative products — how people are using them may change where the risk ends up,” she said.

Diseases that take place in both the nose and lungs should be discussed and considered, especially when health experts evaluate the several smoking methods before seeing which one is actually riskier, added Dr. Gordon.

Goldstein want to know if further research on different tobacco products or potential differences in risks established on the subtle changes in how they smoke is what’s necessary. “For instance, we spent two decades believing that filters on cigarettes made them safer. This belief was entirely false, and it distracted from our need to understand much better how people can attempt to and stay quit,” he said.


E-Cigarettes and Vaping Pens Haven’t Been Shown to Help People Kick the Smoking Habit

Here’s an interesting fact: e-cigarettes and vape pens have not been given the stamp of approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This isn’t an official smoking cessation method, but this has been used for it. According to MedlinePlus, e-cigarettes have not been proven to be a safe or effective way to kick the habit.

According to Karey, there’s already a divide in the health community about e-cigarettes and vaping. “These could be a harm-reducing tool if a person is going to either do this or smoke cigarettes. However, if adolescents are starting to smoke e-cigarettes and they never would have smoked cigarettes, you’re introducing potential harm where there would have otherwise been no risk,” she said.

Reality is, using e-cigarettes has the possibility of increasing the likelihood of smoking cigarettes later on. A study published in February 2021 in Pediatrics found that young people between the ages of 12 to 24 who used e-cigarettes were three times more likely to eventually turn to a daily cigarette user.

Here are a few things to consider before e-cigarettes, according to MedlinePlus, would be:

  • There’s no proof that e-cigarettes are safe to use in the long run.
  • E-cigarettes can contain many harmful substances, among which are heavy metals and cancer-causing chemicals.
  • The ingredients in e-cigarettes have not been labeled. Hence, what’s in them remains unclear. The nicotine content is in each cartridge has not been measured.

Both the authors and Goldstein agree that on the crux of the message given by the study. Users of vapers or hookah users should not change the way they exhale. It’s actually much better to focus on kicking the habit with the help of the free resources available in every state. There is a way to quit smoking for good, said Goldstein.

If you want to do the same, the CDC offers information and materials on how to go about it the best way possible.