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Can vaping increase risk for COVID-19 complications?

In this file photo, a man smokes an electronic cigarette. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh, File)
In this file photo, a man smokes an electronic cigarette. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh, File) (Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistribu)

COVID-19 has dominated health care efforts for months, and experts are still figuring out how to beat the new virus.

But vaping is still a big problem in the United States

According to Humberto Choi, M.D., of Cleveland Clinic, one worrisome impact of vaping during the coronavirus pandemic is that the symptoms of vaping lung injury mimic those of coronavirus.

“The symptoms can be very similar. It can be someone who has cough, shortness of breath, and maybe fever, and we will see that the X-ray is abnormal,” he said. “Between COVID-19 and acute lung injury related to vaping, the presentation can be very similar.”

People who smoke traditional cigarettes face greater risks, too.

Choi said an especially dangerous trait of COVID-19 is the virus’ ability to transition to pneumonia.

And research has shown smokers are already more likely to contract infections than non-smokers.

“We do know, especially when someone is smoking cigarettes, that person is more susceptible to infection, so there is a higher risk of acquiring pneumonia,” said Choi.

Choi said our lungs and airways are exposed to environmental factors every day, but smoking and vaping get in the way of the body’s chance to protect itself from harmful effects.

“Our body is smart enough that we have mechanisms to protect ourselves from infections that can be transmitted in the air, and vaping can affect the ability of our lungs and airways to defend themselves from that,” he said.

Choi reminds people that it’s always a good time to quit smoking or vaping, but now more than ever, we need to take health precautions very seriously.