EVALI: “E-CIGARETTE, OR VAPING, PRODUCT USE ASSOCIATED LUNG INJURY”
CDC defines e-cigarette and vaping respiratory illness as death toll climbs and national healthcare crisis unfolds
CDC, FDA and the American Medical Community Are Taking Action: The “EVALI” Crisis
As the issues surrounding the use and healthcare consequences of e-cigarettes and vaping continue, medical professionals and the Centers for Disease Control are dialing in quickly while engaging multiple related concerns at once.
Status of EVALI in the United States:
- For now, CDC has defined vaping-related illnesses as “EVALI” –an abbreviation for “e-cigarette or vaping, product use associated lung injury”
- EVALI has triggered illnesses in approximately 1,350 people that have resulted in 33 fatalities thus far
- The CDC and medical professionals are not only working on present patient care concerns but also engaged with prevention and strongly encouraging consumers to avoid any form of tobacco PLUS e-cigarette or vaping products of any kind ( adolescent and teen use of such products is especially concerning )
- For the approximately 1,350 EVALI patients the CDC has compiled age and gender data on, 79% are under 35 years of age with an average being 23 years old; roughly 70% of the EVALI diagnosed patients are men and the youngest patient is 13 years old
- In parallel to these measures, CDC and medical professionals are combing through vast amounts of patient care records and other data to potentially identify previous cases and those cases presently misdiagnosed
- Evidence has presented itself regarding past cases of relapses as patients initially were admitted to hospitals, treated and discharged then re-admitted; unbeknownst to medical professionals the respiratory symptoms were a result of e-cigarette or vaping product use
- The CDC has already issued new guidelines to help medical professionals assess EVALI and other respiratory issues to accelerate diagnosis and effective treatment for patients as well as differentiating EVALI from other respiratory cases for tracking and treatment protocol development purposes
Flu Season and Measles Outbreaks:
- A significant concern is the timing of the EVALI crisis; the U.S. is entering the Flu season; a highly contagious illness often accompanied by respiratory issues -medical professionals will have to differentiate between EVALI and flu cases or combined EVALI and FLU cases
- For consumers continuing to use an e-cigarette and vaping products ( in point-of-care settings, they are often referred to as electronic nicotine delivery systems or ENDS ), they may be more vulnerable to the Flu and severely impacted by respiratory problems should they contract it.
- An ongoing challenge is Measles outbreaks; Measles cases can result in respiratory issues which may be multiplied in the event the patient is also an e-cigarette or vaping product user –in addition to piling on more challenges for the CDC and medical professionals to deal with throughout this Fall and upcoming Winter months
- CDC and the medical community strongly urge consumers to seek flu immunizations in advance as well as consult their primary care physician or other suitable healthcare professionals regarding the Measles vaccine
Payers are concerned about EVALI:
- Payers ( managed care organizations, health insurance companies ) are busy quantifying care, risk and cost implications related to EVALI
- This concern will manifest as near-term and far-reaching care and cost requirements to treat EVALI patients are further defined
Moving forward, EVALI is a significant challenge for patients, healthcare providers and payers
In an era of wellness, rising healthcare costs and tobacco avoidance, it is time for the CDC, FDA, DEA, FTC, NIH and legislators to seize the moment and assertively move forward with action to support consumers, the medical community and professional health association stakeholders to resolve the EVALI crisis.
The medical community in the United States and healthcare associations like the American Lung Association, American Cancer Society and American Heart Association have been unrelenting towards the tobacco industry for decades with successful results. They likewise will bring equal or greater force against the e-cigarette and vaping product industry.
The significant illnesses and fatalities associated with “safer” alternatives to cigarettes and other tobacco or nicotine products as well as the introduction of novelty flavored vaporized products have been a deceiving, deadly and costly disappointment.
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