Parents Uncover Daughter’s Vaping Habit Amid Breathlessness Concerns, Prompting Health Warning in UAE

Nada's parents, Iraqi expats living in the UAE, sought medical assistance for their daughter. During the appointment, she admitted to being a constant vaper for two years, originally believing it was safe and a means to fit in with her peers

Dubai, UAE: Nada (surname omitted for privacy reasons), a 17-year-old high school student, has been experiencing symptoms such as dyspnea and chest tightness after participating in physical activities at her school.

Concerned about these symptoms, Nada’s parents, Iraqi expats living in the UAE, sought medical assistance for their daughter. During the appointment, she admitted to being a constant vaper for two years, originally believing it was safe and a means to fit in with her peers.

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However, she had noted deteriorating symptoms, such as greater weariness and difficulties concentrating at school. Despite her fears, she struggled to stop vaping due to cravings and withdrawal symptoms.

“An assessment had revealed early signs of cardiovascular dysfunction, including elevated blood pressure and decreased exercise tolerance,” stated Dr. Karim Ghannem, Specialist Interventional Cardiologist at Thumbay University Hospital.

“We then talked with her about the negative repercussions of vaping on her heart and lungs, asking her to stop immediately. A tailored cessation strategy was developed, which included behavioral therapies, nicotine replacement therapy, and continuing healthcare support.

He continued, “With help, Nada’s symptoms and overall health have improved in recent months.” Doctors emphasized that vaping is becoming more popular among UAE students, posing a public health risk.

They stated that the rising incidence, particularly among young individuals, poses a serious health concern with several possible implications. Similarly, several educators have found that adolescents frequently congregate in toilets to vape covertly.

In recent years, there has been a considerable increase in this demographic’s acceptance of the trend, owing to factors like simplicity of use, appealing flavors, and misunderstandings regarding decreased danger compared to traditional cigarettes.

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The published report, ‘The era of e-cigarettes: A cross-sectional study of vaping preferences, reasons for use, and withdrawal symptoms among contemporary e-cigarette users in the United Arab Emirates,’ examines e-cigarette use in the UAE.

According to the study, 80.9% of participants thought e-cigarettes were less dangerous than tobacco cigarettes, and 71.9% claimed they used e-cigarettes to help them stop smoking tobacco cigarettes.

Other motives for using e-cigarettes include the desire to experiment with different smoking methods and tastes, as well as curiosity. Vapers frequently start young.

Ghannem continued, “According to the findings of the National Library of Medicine Report published in 2021, nicotine vaping has become a prominent behavior among the student population in the UAE, with a significant proportion of users citing enjoyment of flavor and vaporizing experience, while others perceive it as a tool for smoking cessation.

Furthermore, the majority of current users started smoking as teenagers, between the ages of 16 and 20, and reported daily smoking habits.” He stated that its compounds might cause inflammation and oxidative stress in blood vessels, raising the risk of cardiovascular disorders such as heart attacks and strokes.

Furthermore, vaping can cause respiratory problems and worsen pre-existing illnesses such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Vaping kids suffer a seven-fold increased risk of future smoking.
Dr. Emad Al Nemnem, Consultant and Head of Pulmonary Diseases at Burjeel Medical City, stated that young people are more likely to attend medical clinics to complain about various illnesses, such as recurrent colds and chest infections.

“The main cause of this may be electronic smoking,”  he added. “Nicotine has been scientifically demonstrated to alter brain development in this group, as well as memory, thinking style, learning, self-control, attention, and the chance of subsequent smoking addiction. Teenagers have a sevenfold higher chance of smoking regular cigarettes in the future and being hooked on them.”

Even psychologists and wellness professionals acknowledge that vaping has developed not only as a statement of defiance or coolness but also as an ineffective coping method in the absence of more adaptive emotional regulation strategies.

Girish Hemnani, a life coach and energy therapist, added, “While addressing the root cause with teens hooked on to vaping, I found that at the core of vaping is nicotine addiction, which is not just the physiological dependence on the substance but also, and perhaps more profoundly, the psychological aspect—specifically, the inability to self-soothe and regulate negative emotions or anxiety.”

He added that this difficulty is frequently founded on emotions of anxiety or discomfort, which leads people to seek nicotine as a brief relaxation or escape.

“In a society where quick satisfaction is anticipated, teenagers are struggling to navigate their emotional reactions to stress, anxiety, and peer pressure in the absence of rapid solutions. Contrary to common belief, today’s youth are negotiating a very different world than those who vape for the sake of seeming hip”.

“The widespread use of social media exacerbates this problem by creating unreasonable expectations for individuals, blurring the distinctions between reality and the crafted illusions seen online,” Hemnani said.

Vaping is only for people over the age of 18. According to Dubai Municipality legislation, the sale of vaping goods to those under the age of 18 is absolutely illegal, with severe consequences for noncompliance.

Vaping is classified as an electronic cigarette, which is a unique type of smoking controlled by Federal Law No. 15 of 2009. According to this regulation, the minimum age for purchasing and using vaping devices is 18 years old.

However, there have been worries that vapes are easily available and are being offered to underage pupils by unscrupulous people.

 

This article was created using automation technology and was thoroughly edited and fact-checked by one of our editorial staff members

Tariq Saeed

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