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UAE Parents Uncover Daughter’s Vaping Habit After Doctor’s Visit

UAE Parents Uncover Daughter's Vaping Habit After Doctor's Visit

In a concerning turn of events, a 17-year-old high school student, referred to as Nada for privacy reasons, recently revealed her two-year vaping habit during a visit to a medical professional. The discovery came after Nada exhibited symptoms like breathlessness and chest discomfort, leading her parents, Iraqi expatriates living in the UAE, to seek medical advice.

During the consultation, Nada confessed to being a regular vaper, initially perceiving it as harmless and a means to fit in with her peers. However, she began experiencing worsening symptoms, including fatigue and difficulty concentrating at school. Despite her concerns, quitting vaping proved challenging due to cravings and withdrawal symptoms.

Specialist Interventional Cardiologist, Dr. Karim Ghannem, who treated Nada at Thumbay University Hospital, highlighted early signs of cardiovascular dysfunction upon assessment, including elevated blood pressure and decreased exercise tolerance. Following discussions about the detrimental effects of vaping on heart and lung health, Nada was urged to quit immediately. A personalized cessation plan incorporating behavioral interventions and ongoing healthcare support was devised, leading to noticeable improvements in her symptoms and overall health over subsequent months.

Experts have raised alarm over the increasing prevalence of vaping among students in the UAE, labeling it a public health crisis. Factors such as easy accessibility, diverse flavors, and misconceptions about reduced harm compared to traditional cigarettes have fueled its popularity among young people. A published study on vaping preferences among current users in the UAE revealed that a significant proportion believed e-cigarettes to be less harmful than tobacco cigarettes and used them as a smoking cessation aid.

Dr. Emad Al Nemnem, Consultant and Head Pulmonary Diseases at Burjeel Medical City, emphasized the detrimental impact of nicotine on brain development in teenagers, increasing the risk of addiction to smoking later in life. He warned that teenagers who vape are seven times more likely to become regular cigarette smokers in the future.

Furthermore, psychologists and wellness experts have highlighted vaping as a misguided coping mechanism for teens, often rooted in an inability to regulate negative emotions or anxiety. Girish Hemnani, a Dubai-based Life Coach and Energy Healer, underscored the psychological aspect of nicotine addiction and its association with stress relief among adolescents.

While regulations prohibit the sale of vaping products to individuals under 18 in accordance with Dubai Municipality guidelines, concerns persist regarding their availability to underage students. In response, student-led initiatives aimed at increasing awareness about the dangers of vaping have emerged. For instance, Riya Ananthanpillai, a Grade 12 student at GEMS Dubai American Academy, developed an interactive educational module discussing the negative effects of vaping on adolescents, which received positive feedback and is set to be implemented across GEMS schools.

Schools are also taking proactive measures to address teen vaping, including strict discipline policies, awareness campaigns, and support systems for at-risk students. Rashmi Nandkeolyar, Principal and Director of DPS Dubai, emphasized the importance of open communication and vigilance among teachers and parents to combat the growing trend of teen vaping.

The revelation of Nada’s vaping habit serves as a stark reminder of the urgent need for comprehensive education and preventive measures to safeguard the health and well-being of adolescents in the UAE.

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