'Avoid it': Vaping hospitalizations increase, take away from necessary COVID-19 resources

Orlando Health says its hospital is seeing more patients with serious vaping-related health problems and that it's taking away resources needed for COVID-19 patients.

Orlando Health says more people are vaping as they are social distancing at home and its hospital is seeing more patients with critical vaping-related illnesses.

"They’re home, they’re depressed, they can’t get out, can’t be with their friends, and we’re seeing an increased usage related to that," said Dr. Lawrence Spack. "We've seen a number of patients that have come to the ICU pretty sick and again treating them suspected of COVID. Going through all the steps regarding PPE, and protection, and isolation." 

Dr. Spack says symptoms of COVID-19 and vaping are similar, which is why they have to treat those patients as if they have the virus until they can prove otherwise. That means following new guidelines used for COVID-19 patients and using proper PPE. 

"There’s a lot of overlaps such as shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, low oxygen levels in vaping as well as COVID," Dr. Spack said. "It certainly takes a lot of resources away. One patient, you can count up the number of PPE, gowns and gloves. It’s an allocation of staff; it’s an allocation of resources, allocation of time."

Doctors are now warning people who vape to stop and look at the bigger picture. 

"Avoid it if at all possible," Dr. Spack said. "I think people need to really take a step back and think of the ramifications of vaping."