Forget the age-old smoker’s cough, now doctors are seeing patients with ‘vaper’s

Vapers are being struck down with a pesky cough – and doctors say it sounds different to that of a smoker.

One London-based GP said has treated e-cigarette addicts who’ve developed a ‘dry’ or ‘wheezy’ rasp. She believes the cheap gadgets, which are packed full of a liquid containing nicotine and other chemicals, are to blame.

A smoker’s cough, meanwhile, tends to be ‘phlegmy’, rather than dry.

E-cig advice pages warn of the ‘common phenomenon’, saying it’s particularly problematic for new vapers who’ve just switched from cigarettes.

Experts think it could be a sign that the body’s healing from years of tobacco abuse.

Quitting smoking and opting for a vape instead is said to expose you to less cancer causing toxins reducing your risk of lung disease, heart disease and stroke

Tobacco destroys tiny hair-like structures in the airways called cilia, designed to keep dirt and mucus out of the lungs.

When these are killed off, irritants can settle in the lungs and mucus builds up. This is what triggers the ‘smoker’s cough’, with their body attempting to clear the airways.

Once someone gives up smoking, cilia regrow and help to move the mucus out. This can also result in a cough that can last for months.

Professor Lion Shahab, co-director of University College London‘s Tobacco and Alcohol Research Group, told MailOnline: ‘Developing a cough is a normal response to stopping smoking as the cilia in the lungs recover and become functional again.

‘So, if a smoker switches to vaping, something similar may be going on.’

Prominent e-cigarette researcher Professor Peter Hajek, of Queen Mary University London, said the tickly ‘vaper’s cough’ usually fades after a few weeks of use.

One trial, published in the respected New England Journal of Medicine in 2019, even found cigarette addicts given vapes as a stop-smoking tool were coughing less a year later, compared to participants handed nicotine replacement gums, patches or sprays.

Dr Hana Patel, a GP in London, said there is ‘no clear evidence’ that the coughs are directly caused by vaping because the gadgets – sold for as little as £5 – haven’t been around long enough to confirm the link. 

She told MailOnline: ‘They can cause side effects such as throat and mouth irritation, headaches, cough and feeling sick.

‘These tend to reduce over time with continued use.

‘We don’t know yet what effects they might have in the long-term.’

Dr Patel stressed that vapes should only be used to help you stop smoking, or to stop you going back to tobacco.

Dr Nirusa Kumaran, another NHS GP based in London, added: ‘Vaping can be a useful adjunct if you are stopping smoking.

‘But it’s not something I recommend taking up without a history of smoking. Without knowing the purity of the vape you could be introducing harmful toxins into your airways.’

GPs say some people come in with a ‘dry’ or ‘wheezy’ cough after vaping. The vapes are sold in a variety of flavours and colours and because they contain nicotine they are addictive
As of February, a total of 1,009 reactions to vapes have been recorded by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency. Here are the 10 most common reports

E-cigs allow people to inhale nicotine in a vapour — which is produced by heating a liquid, which typically contains propylene glycol, glycerine, flavourings, and other chemicals.

Unlike traditional cigarettes, vapes do not contain tobacco, nor do they produce tar or carbon — two of the most dangerous elements.

NHS chiefs insist vaping is substantially less harmful than smoking.

But evidence is quickly piling up to show the gadgets pose their own dangers, with multiple studies raising the alarm about vaping’s potential risks. One academic paper last month even sparked fears that e-cigs could lead to cancer.

Doctors have expressed fear there could be a wave of lung disease, dental issues and even cancer in the coming decades in people who took up the habit at a young age.

Last year, MailOnline revealed e-cigarettes have been linked to five deaths in Britain, although none are proven.

The data was obtained via the UK watchdog the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency’s (MHRA) Yellow Card scheme, which allows members of the public and medics to submit suspected adverse events.

Under the same database, it can be revealed that more than 100 complaints of a cough have also been logged.

Dozens of children have been hospitalised by the gadgets, including some as young as four.

Health charities described the findings as ‘deeply worrying’ as they urged non-smokers not to take up vaping and called on ministers to crack down on unscrupulous sellers.

Ministers have announced they will ban e-cigarette packaging and flavours that are attractive to kids in a bit to stop them developing a habit.

Rishi Sunak has previously said it is ‘ridiculous’ that vapes are…

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