It’s flu season. Usually that’s reason enough to take patients seriously when they present with certain respiratory complaints. These days, influenza is overshadowed by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, of course—and with good reason, as it looks like it’s now the number-one killer of Americans. However, if you assume those are the only two respiratory issues to be concerned with, you’re doing your patients a disservice that could prove deadly. According to a new study published online by JAMA Network Open, vaping cannabis can cause sudden shortness of breath, wheezing, and bronchitic symptoms in users. And, as noted in an article published in the January issue of JUCM, e-cigarette and vaping-associated lung injury, or EVALI, can be life-threatening and in the same young adults who were studied in the JAMA Network Open study. That study of 2,553 young adults founding that any cannabis vaping at all increased risk for bronchitic symptoms, while cannabis vaping three or more times within the past month was associated with increased risk for wheezing. It also reminds the reader that vaping of nicotine products and cannabis is on the rise among young adults. So, when patients in that demographic group present with symptoms that could be attributed to COVID-19 or the flu, don’t overlook the less-discussed but growing possibility that they could be experiencing EVALI.
Be Alert: Flu and COVID-19 Can Kill—But So Can This Other Source for Respiratory Complaints