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Life After Vaping-Related Illness Diagnosis

So you or someone you know has been diagnosed with e-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injury (EVALI). Now what?

Depending on the severity of your vaping-related illness, your doctor will decide whether you need to be treated in a hospital or you can be treated in an outpatient setting.

Hospitalization

Hospitalization will be recommended if you present severe respiratory distress, decreased oxygen saturation or comorbidities—additional conditions co-occurring with a primary condition. Should you have EVALI and another illness such as the flu, hospital admission will also be strongly considered. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests treatment with corticosteroids, which may be helpful dealing with EVALI. Hospitalized patients who were treated with these steroid hormones that help alleviate inflammation showed "rapid improvement."

Patients should be deemed stable for 24-48 hours prior to discharge, and should return for a follow-up visit no later than 1-2 weeks after discharge (or sooner should symptoms increase).

Outpatient treatment

If your symptoms aren't severe—normal oxygen saturation, no comorbidities, no respiratory distress, etc.—outpatient management will most likely be recommended. While corticosteroids proved to be helpful for hospitalized patients with EVALI, their use in an outpatient setting hasn't been studied enough and should be prescribed with caution as they may worsen respiratory infections.

If you're an outpatient candidate, you should follow up with your physician within 24-48 hours of your initial evaluation. This is because some patients exhibit mild symptoms at first, but face a drastic worsening of them within a 48-hour time period.

    Whether you are treated in a hospital or an outpatient setting, the CDC highly recommends cessation treatments and strategies so you refrain from continuing your e-cigarette or vaping habit. If you stop using these products—whether nicotine-based or THC-based—your risk of having a life-altering illness related to their use significantly decreases.

    There are plenty of cessation methods and strategies available to help you limit use and eventually quit including support groups, counselors, medicines and nicotine-replacement therapy.