Concerns are rising among medical professionals in Thailand as e-cigarette-related pneumonia and bronchitis cases increase, particularly among those who use cannabis oil. Difficulties in diagnosis and a lack of awareness among doctors have contributed to under-reporting cases.
Thai medical professionals have expressed their concerns over the increasing number of pneumonia and bronchitis cases connected to e-cigarette usage. Specifically, those using cannabis oil have been particularly affected. Despite these growing numbers, the accurate diagnosis and proper reporting of the cases have been hindered by a lack of awareness among physicians.
Assoc. Prof. Sutat Rungruanghiranya, Secretary-General of the Medical Professionals Network for Tobacco Consumption Control and Department Head of Internal Medicine at Srinakarinwirot University, stated that the under-reporting of cases could be attributed to physicians not properly questioning patients about their e-cigarette usage or their use of cannabis oil.
E-cigarettes combined with cannabis oil have been linked to a higher risk of developing bronchial and lung issues, and while this combination is less common in Thailand compared to other countries, it is believed that as its popularity grows, the prevalence of associated diseases will rise.
“Patients using e-cigarettes are harder to treat and take longer to heal than those using traditional cigarettes. Many of them initially wanted to quit smoking altogether, but heard that e-cigarettes could help them quit traditional cigarettes. However, they eventually find it even more difficult to quit e-cigarettes due to their higher nicotine content and the fact that 80% of the nicotine in e-cigarettes is synthetic, making it easier to absorb and more addictive.”
Sutat further elaborated on the difficulty in quitting e-cigarettes, with some patients smoking two or three tubes daily, making cessation extremely challenging. Treating each patient varies in length and intensity depending on their smoking habits.
Although there are no definitive statistics on e-cigarette usage in Thailand, it is evident that heavy users face considerable obstacles in quitting. The long-term effects of e-cigarette usage remain unknown, but preliminary data suggests prolonged use may lead to lung cancer and bladder cancer in rodents, with the impact on human users expected to become more evident over the next 10 to 20 years.
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