The use of e-cigarettes, or vapes, has become extremely popular in the United States. Among the top reasons, many see vaping as a healthier alternative to smoking traditional tobacco cigarettes — and given what we know about the latter, there is certainly some accuracy to that. 


In particular, vaping is popular among young Americans. The National Youth Tobacco Survey (NYTS) collected data from middle and high school students in 2021 and found that 2.55 million children used some form of a tobacco product in the previous 30 days. Out of that total, e-cigarettes were the most popular consumption tool, and approximately just over 2 million students said they used e-cigarettes regularly.


But growing evidence indicates heavy use of e-cigarettes can lead to serious respiratory issues that eventually cause emergency medical situations and require airway suctioning and intubation. 


Vaping risks


According to the American Lung Association, a common misconception by vape users is that what they’re inhaling is harmless water vapor, but frequently, the “juice” they inhale — which commonly comes in a variety of enticing flavors — contains a long list of chemicals that are toxic to the body. The cherry on top: none of these devices are approved or regulated by the Federal Drug Association (FDA), which gives manufacturers free rein. In worst case scenarios, amateur users create their own substances that include dangerous chemicals, intentionally or not.


The Centers of Disease Control (CDC) has begun keeping tabs on the lung injuries caused by using vaping devices. As of February 2020 there have been approximately 2,807 hospitalization cases caused by e-cigarettes and a total of 68 deaths. Over 50% of the hospitalization cases were people 24 years old and below, with the youngest being only 13 years old. Among the 68 deaths, the youngest was 15 years old. We see that these numbers are still relatively low, compared to those who are longtime smokers, but the growing uptake of vaping, continued lack of oversight and inherent risks suggests that medical personnel should expect more emergencies related to e-cigarette use.


Side effects


The International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health conducted a study and concluded that 40% of people who use vaping devices report experiencing side effects daily. Drug Watch, a high-risk medical product resource site, states that there are numerous side effects with a wide severity range that are associated with vaping, including:


Less dangerous:


  • Chronic coughing
  • Dizziness 
  • Drowsiness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Heart Palpitations
  • Chronic headaches


Most severe:


  • Lung injuries (popcorn lung, Cryptogenic organizing pneumonia, and idiopathic bronchiolitis obliterans with organizing pneumonia, etc.)
  • Heart attacks
  • Strokes
  • Nicotine addiction
  • Seizures


Many of these symptoms can manifest into Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS), and, in turn, can lead to respiratory emergency situations involving the suctioning of an airway. If someone loses consciousness during one of these dangerous episodes, the chances of phlegm, particulate or even food can be remnant in their airway, which can lead to death. This would require medics to suction the airway before they can proceed with the intubation and ventilation to save the patient’s life.


Suctioning tools


Effective airway suctioning devices, such as those provided by SSCOR, are vital components to treating patients whose respiratory systems are affected by vaping or any condition affecting their breathing. Portable devices that would be best suitable for suctioning obstructed airways include:


  • The S-SCORT lll Portable Suction Unit is a staple in any EMS agency. This device is durable because its key components are encased in protective foam. S-SCORT III is powered by a rugged and reliable internal sealed lead acid battery, which is maintained by an AC/DC charger or a DC power cord.


  • The SSCOR DCell Suction device is the world’s first and only full size portable suction device powered by off-the-shelf alkaline batteries. This device is intended to be stored for times of emergencies, and it doesn’t have to remain on a charger This makes it ideal for emergencies when external power sources are not available such as patient surge events and power outages.


With the rise in respiratory emergencies caused by long-term use of vaping devices, emergency responders must be prepared to clear the airways of even more patients, and SSCOR’s products are here to help you do that. 


S-SCORT III portable hospital suction for ambulances and first responders