Teen Vaping

It’s hard to tell if your child is vaping, but these signs may help you figure it out.

Vaping, or the use of e-cigarettes, is becoming an epidemic among teens in the U.S. Electronic cigarettes are battery-operated devices that emit a vaporized liquid for users to inhale. The vaporized liquid typically contains nicotine, other chemicals and flavorings. Vaping can also be used with marijuana and other drugs.

One major issue with vaping is that parents, teachers and school administrators have a hard time knowing when kids are actually doing it. Many of the vaping devices look like everyday objects that would be used for another purpose. And since there’s no smoke, it’s hard to catch kids in the act. The vapor also dissipates quickly and leaves no residue.

So what signs should you look for that may indicate your child is vaping?

  1. Unusual items. Some e-cigarettes resemble common items like USB drives and pens so they may not be that easy to spot, but they usually have holes on each end. They can also look like more traditional smoking devices. E-cigs use pods, atomizers and cartridges that need to be replaced and batteries than require recharging. Organic cotton balls and thin metallic coils are other components used when vaping.
  2. Sweet smell. Although odorless and scented liquids can be used in e-cigarettes, many teens choose scented vapor. The most popular flavors are sweet so you may notice an unusually sweet smell, although the scent goes away quickly.
  3. Changes in thirst and taste. The process of vaping makes users’ mouths dry. So if you see your child drinking more than usual, it may be a sign they’re vaping. A dry mouth also makes food taste less flavorful, so if your child is using more spices or salt, that may also be a clue.
  4. Nosebleeds. Not only does the mouth get dry when vaping but so does the inside of the nose as the vapor is exhaled through the nostrils. This can result in nosebleeds.
  5. Less need for caffeine. Vaping causes some people to be more sensitive to caffeine. So if your teen is skipping his or her daily caffeine fix, it may be time to look for other signs of vaping.
  6. Unexplained cough or mouth sores. Researchers have linked vaping to mouth wounds that won’t heal and a smoker’s-like cough.

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Date Last Reviewed: October 19, 2018

Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor

Medical Review: Perry Pitkow, MD

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