By Tanni Haas, Ph.D.
Vaping is on the rise. According to the latest figures, an astonishing 20% of all high school students, or one in five students, vape regularly. But how do you know if your kids are among them? Drawing on the insights of reputable institutions such as the Centers for Disease Control, the Child Mind Institute, and the Partnership For Drug-Free Kids, I have compiled a list of potential warning signs that parents should be on the look-out for.
8 Signs Your Kids May Be Vaping:
When you vape, your mouth and throat get dehydrated, leaving you with a dry palate, aka “cotton mouth.” Kids who vape often start drinking (and peeing) more than usual. Many have dark circles under their eyes, another common sign of dehydration.
Desire For Spicy Food
Everyone needs moisture to taste the flavor of food. When our mouths get dry, we lose the ability to taste flavor. If you notice your kids suddenly want to eat more spicy food, or add more spice to their regular food, it could be a sign that they have started to vape. In fact, the more kids vape, the less flavorful food becomes to them. This is known as “vaper’s tongue.”
Vaping not only dries out the mouth and throat, but also the nose. When people vape, they typically exhale through their noses which causes the nasal passages to become dry. This, in turn, often leads to frequent nosebleeds.
Acne and Red Spots
Vaping, especially inhaling vaping liquids that contain nicotine, can also affect the skin. Nicotine ages the skin and slows down the healing of wounds. Kids who vape are more likely to have facial blemishes, including acne and red spots, that last longer and do not heal easily.
Wheezing, Coughing, and Shortness of Breath
Vaping irritates the lungs and can lead to coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. In extreme cases, an inflammation of the lungs can lead to bacterial infection and pneumonia.
If your kids usually enjoy caffeinated drinks, like Frappuccinos or energy drinks, but suddenly start to avoid them, it could be a sign that they are vaping. When combined with caffeine, the nicotine in many vaping liquids can make people anxious and irritable and cause severe mood swings. Vapers often give up caffeine to avoid these side effects.
Sweet Aromas In The Air
Since most kids prefer vaping liquids with sweet flavors, one sign that your kids may be vaping is a strange, sweet scent coming from their rooms, like bubble gum or fruit punch, but you do not see any gum wrappers or juice containers lying around. This is also true if you suddenly get a whiff when your kids are not home. They could be hiding vaping flavored liquids in the house.
Strange Techie Equipment In Their Rooms
Finally, a sign that your kids may be vaping is if you find unfamiliar, high tech-looking devices or spare parts in their rooms, especially the trash can. This can include things like atomizers, battery chargers, cartridges, flash drives, and metallic coils. Most vaping devices consist of multiple parts that need to be replaced on a regular basis.