NCH doctor says vaping, COVID-19 can have very similar symptoms

Reporter: Taylor Smith Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:
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The state is warning that Florida teens with coronavirus symptoms are being admitted to the hospital but end up testing negative for the virus. Doctors say it’s because of vaping.

A doctor at NCH said vaping and COVID-19 can have very similar symptoms, and parents say the one thing that can stop the vaping trend is communication.

Ashley Tollefson said she worries for more than just her kids.

“It concerns me for the general public,” Tollefson said.

Although her son does not vape, she still thinks about the day it could come.

“I worry that it could be a possibility with the peer pressure that goes on and the bullying,” Tollefson said.

Dr. Benjamin Abo with NCH said vaping and COVID-19 symptoms could be easy to confuse.

“For the most part, from [COVID-19] versus vaping, it’s a huge Venn diagram with a ton of overlapping,” Abo said. “A lot of lung issues, coughing, chest pain might be worse when they take a deep breath, that could easily be associated with vaping.”

The state attorney general’s office said it has seen a rise in teens going to Orlando hospitals with COVID-19 symptoms that proved to be vaping related and not the virus.

“For their general health and [COVID-19] specific, I am worried for them,” Abo said.

Abo has also noticed more of the younger generation beginning to test positive for COVID-19.

“I feel anecdotally that I am seeing a bigger flux of 20s and 30s,” Abo said.

Abo said it is possible this is happening because of their weaker lungs from vaping.

“They are more susceptible to lung infection,” Abo said.

According to the Florida Department of Health, every 1 in 4 teens admits to vaping. There have been 119 vaping-related pulmonary illnesses statewide.

Parents say it’s scary and talking to your kids about it is very important.

“[During] family meals, talk to your kids,” Tollefson said. “Let them know you can tell me anything. It’s really important to let your kids know you are their advocate and you are there for them.”

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