BALTIMORE (WJZ) — While young people are not necessarily the most vulnerable to COVID-19, studies show young people do vape more and that makes them at risk.

Twenty percent of high school students vape, and those who vape likely have damaged lungs or damaged blood vessels that lead to the lungs.

“They’re damaging their lungs with vaping then they get this novel virus on top of it and they’ll react different(ly) than someone who has healthy lungs,” said Dr. Anita Naik with Medstar Health.

As a pulmonologist, Dr. Naik said she’s seeing this with her own patients.

“He had asthma as a child and had grown out of it for 7-8 years. He says, ‘I’m wheezing.’ Wou ask the COVID question and these are the people I worry about,” Dr. Naik said.

A recent study from Stanford University tested 3,400 people ages 16-23 in May. The study concluded those who vape are six percent more likely to have severe COVID symptoms if they contract the virus.

“We know nicotine and other materials in vaping solutions can injure the lining in the lung, you’re breaking down those barriers and injuring an already injured infrastructure,” Dr. Naik said.

CORONAVIRUS RESOURCES: 

Many vaping products are not FDA approved. Those purchased online sometimes contain harmful chemicals, bacterial, fungi and other unknown substances.

Dr. Naik said the body wants to fend off harm, but cannot always succeed.

“The human body is so complex, it’s this beautiful mechanism to protect itself and every time we put foreign chemicals and solvents into our body we disrupt that balance,” she said.

Little is known about the coronavirus, so doctors worry these vaping patients may have permanent damage to their lungs if they contract the virus.

For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department’s website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ’s coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.

Rachael Cardin

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