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  • Writer's pictureDr. MeiLan Han

Back to School Homework: Keeping Your Child's Lungs Healthy

As parents are turning their attention to school restarting, whether that be virtual or live, it’s important to remember what we can do to protect our children’s health. Number one on that priority list should be scheduling you and your children for flu vaccinations. In the middle of a global pandemic, it is more important than ever to protect ourselves with tools that are available, and that includes influenza vaccinations.  The CDC recommends vaccines should be administered by the end of October, so now is the time to schedule!

Now is also the time to talk to your children, particularly those in middle and high school, about vaping. This month the American Lung Association launches its “Get Your Head out of the Clouds” campaign. 

Think middle school is too early? Think again.  Middle school is actually when many children will first be exposed to tobacco products.  It is also an age when children are more likely to be influenced by what their parents have to say. 

Research shows that vaping is not only highly addictive but is also harmful to a child’s overall health and brain development. One vape cartridge may contain as much nicotine as a pack of cigarettes. Compounds that may be inhaled include multiple harmful chemicals that are known carcinogens. EVALI (E-cigarette or Vaping Product Use-Associated Lung Injury) is the name given by the Centers for Disease Control to the dangerous acute lung disease we have seen that has been associated with vaping. While Vitamin E acetate has been linked to this condition, this does not explain all cases. 

Unfortunately, vape devices may be sitting on your kitchen counter and you wouldn’t even know it. Some of them resemble household objects like USB devices, pens, highlighters, and chargers. 

Signs of vaping include behavioral and mood changes, increased irritability, and increased thirst. Although for some children, there may be no obvious signs. This is why it is so important that parents begin having open-ended discussions with their middle school children about these products.

Prevention is always easier than trying to help children quit later. Not sure how to start the conversation? Check out the American Lung Association’s website

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