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Are Vaping And Hookah as Bad as Smoking for Your Lungs

Pathkind Team 5891 Views
Updated: 13 Oct 2023
Published: 08 Dec 2022
Vaping & Lung Health: Comparing with Smoking

Gone are the days when tobacco and alcohol were the only forms of intoxication. At present, numerous drugs and drinks have evolved that will get you high. People are now looking towards less-harmful substances, like hookah and vapes. Those who manufacture e-cigarettes sell them as completely non-harmful substances. Similarly, hookah sellers claim that the smoke is not as dangerous as the smoke of cigarettes.

People now believe in vape and hookah manufacturers, especially Gen Z millennials. The number of teenagers smoking e-cigarettes and hookah has drastically increased in the past few years. Vaping vs smoking debate is now on, and people might not know the complete truth. Let us discuss how vaping and hookah impact your lungs, compared to smoking. 

The Impact of Vaping on Your Lungs 

With cigarettes, researchers have ample data to deduce the results. However, vaping is comparatively new compared to smoking, and researchers do not have ample data. At this point, it is definite that smoking is more harmful than vaping because researchers are still studying the harmful effects of vaping. It does not mean that vaping is good for your lungs. Several studies have linked vaping with harmful effects on the lungs. 

An e-cigarette consists of several substances that are dissolved in a liquid base. The liquid is heated within the e-cigarette, and you inhale the smoke. Don’t believe anyone who says that are no chemicals in a vape. Vape consists of adulterated flavours that might not have a good impact on your lungs. Nicotine is a primary component in vapes, along with aromatic additives. Experts suggest that vapes might make individuals hooked up on nicotine at a very young age. Some vape companies also include THC in the oily base.

THC is the same component found in marijuana and intoxicates the consumer. Researchers believe that the substances mixed in the oily base of vapes get deep down in the lungs. Inflammatory problems within the lungs are observed in people who vape more than required. 

Vitamin E is also linked with vaping side effects. Vape manufacturers often use Vitamin E as a delivery agent. Vitamin E is not a harmful substance, as it is used in several medications. When taken orally, Vitamin E might not have any harmful effects. People also use Vitamin E on the skin for numerous reasons. However, Vitamin E might act as an irritant when inhaled. Since you inhale Vitamin E while vaping, it might cause some damage to the lungs.

Vitamin E has been found in the lungs of people who seek medical attention due to excessive vaping. Besides the substance mentioned above, e-cigarettes include other substances that pose a risk to the lungs. Some substances that are harmful to the lungs when inhaled after heating are as follows: 

  • Vape manufacturers often rely on additives to deepen their flavours. Diacetyl is a food additive found in vapes that might damage the tiny pass-ways in the lungs. 
  • Formaldehyde is another harmful chemical found in vapes. It is believed that formaldehyde can cause heart or lung diseases. 
  • Vape manufacturers also use acrolein in their products. It is used to kill weeds and might harm your lungs. 

Now that you know that vapes contain harmful chemicals let us see some vaping side effects. Some common diseases faced by people who vape excessively are as follows: 

Bronchiolitis Obliterans 

Bronchiolitis Obliterans, also known as popcorn lung, is a condition that occurs after the tiny airways in the lungs are damaged. Popcorn lung vaping is a common condition that has already been proven among vape users. Initially, popcorn factory workers started suffering from Bronchiolitis Obliterans. They were exposed to diacetyl; an additive used to deepen the butter flavour in popcorn. Since diacetyl is added to the liquid in e-cigarettes, vape users are at risk of Bronchiolitis Obliterans. Wheezing, breathlessness, and chest pain are common symptoms of Bronchiolitis Obliterans. 

Lipoid Pneumonia 

Lipoid pneumonia is different from traditional pneumonia. When fatty acids deposit in the lungs, a person suffers from lipoid pneumonia. Studies have shown that vaping might lead to the deposition of fatty acids in the lungs. When the building blocks of fats enter the lungs, several problems might arise. Chronic cough, blood-tinged mucus, and breathlessness are common symptoms of lipoid pneumonia. 


Pneumothorax, also known as collapsed lungs, is a condition that allows oxygen to escape from the lungs. When air blisters over the lungs rupture, the person might suffer from pneumothorax. Vaping has been linked with the rupturing of air blisters over the lungs. Shoulder pain, breathlessness, and a sharp chest are the common symptoms of collapsed lungs. 

Even though cigarettes are more dangerous in the vaping vs smoking debate, vapes are no saints. Studies have shown that teenagers involved in vaping are more likely to start smoking. Since vaping has many side effects, it is essential that you don’t vape excessively. 

safe vaping checklist

Understanding the Impact of Hookah on Your Lungs 

Now that you understand vaping side effects, let us discuss the impact of hookah on your lungs. Hookah tobacco has been linked with several lung conditions and diseases. To date, more than 80 harmful substances have been identified in hookah by researchers. Many people believe that hookahs are a safe alternative to cigarettes, while they are not. While consuming hookah, the smoke passes through water. There is no guarantee that harmful substances will not reach your lungs after passing through water. Hookahs are of several types, and some use charcoal. The combustion of charcoal might produce several harmful substances, like carbon monoxide. 

Hookahs are popular at parties, especially among teenagers. When people smoke hookah, they usually sit for an entire session with friends. Studies have shown that a whole hookah session exposes people to around two times more nicotine than a single cigarette. Also, the individual is exposed to more tar, formaldehyde, carcinogenic polyaromatic hydrocarbon, and phenol. These things are mixed within the flavoured hookah tobacco. Since most people enjoy an entire hookah session, it might be more dangerous than a single cigarette. 

Leading medical experts have also disregarded the use of hookah amidst the COVID scenario. Youngsters don’t realise they are sharing health risks while smoking hookah. During a hookah session, individuals use the same smoking tube (pipe) to inhale tobacco. Usually, people don’t clean the smoking tube after someone has passed it to them.

As a result, viruses and bacteria might be transmitted through smoking pipes, leading to lung problems. For the same reason, hookah bars were banned in most cities during the peak of the COVID pandemic. Even though the COVID wave has weakened, the risks are still prevalent. 

Hookah smokers usually inhale smoke longer than cigarette users. They take deeper puffs and indulge in longer hookah sessions. As a result, the individual inhales harmful substances for a longer period. In some cases, longer hookah sessions might be more harmful than cigarette smoking. If you are showing signs of COVID disease after a hookah session, you can book an RT-PCR test

In a Nutshell 

Teenagers are inclined more towards vaping and hookah without knowing the risks. Studies have shown that excessive vaping and hookah smoking does no good to the lungs. Individuals can take pulse oximetry, spirometry, lung volume, FeNO, and other lab tests to know about their lung function!

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