Doctors warn of similar symptoms for the flu and vaping-related illnesses

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Metro doctors say this flu season could cause dangerous confusion for people who vape.

That’s because influenza and vaping-related illness symptoms are very similar.

“Certainly if someone is vaping and they start having coughing, shortness of breath, then they should come in the emergency room to be evaluated because it could be related to the vaping — or it could be the flu,” said Dr. Gary Salzman at Truman Medical Center.

Doctors at the KU hospital will be able to tell the difference.

“We can do a rapid test to differentiate whether they have influenza or not,” Salzman said.

He said people who vape on a regular basis, either nicotine or marijuana-based, should be more diligent in getting checked because vaping illnesses have been much more severe than the flu.

The latest CDC report shows 34 people have died in the US due to vaping, with one in Missouri and two in Kansas.

And Salzman said the number of vaping-related illnesses keeping rising, with more than 1,800 cases reported as of Oct. 29.

“I would strongly discourage people from vaping,” Salzman said. “I think that it’s dangerous. We don’t really know what’s in these systems.”

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