OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. --
Make no mistake, the national news you have seen or heard lately about the outbreak of lung injury and death is real.
As of Oct. 29, 2019, over 1,800 lung injury cases and 37 deaths have been reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the only commonality among all cases is the patient’s use of e-cigarette or vaping products.
It is an outbreak that is getting bigger and bigger by the day and it has medical providers at Offutt’s Ehrling Bergquist Clinic worried.
“We need to aggressively educate our population and stop the usage before it starts to impact our mission or worse someone loses their life,” said Col. Julie Ostrand, 55th Medical Group commander.
In just the last two years we’ve seen e-cigarette use at Offutt nearly double from 5% of our Airmen to 9%. That’s approximately 500 of our Airmen putting their health, life and mission readiness at stake. Just as there is no safe amount of tobacco use known, there is no known safe amount of vaping, which is of immediate concern.
According to the CDC, some patients reported that their symptoms developed over just a few days, while others reported that their symptoms developed over several weeks.
The CDC strongly encourages people who have recently used e-cigarettes or vaping products with any of the following symptoms to see their healthcare provider immediately: Cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, fatigue, fever or weight loss.
One more measure being put into place is a briefing intended for units entitled “Empowerment, Not Judgement!”
The brief addresses big tobacco’s lies and the truth behind how nicotine use affects mission performance, our daily lives and the lives of our children. It’s of benefit for all of us to know the truth.
The 55th Medical Group stands ready to assist all e-cigarette, vaping or tobacco users with nicotine replacement therapy including nicotine patch, gum, lozenge or prescription therapy.
For more information or to schedule an appointment with a behavioral health consultant or primary care manager, call 402-232-2273. To schedule a unit briefing call 402-294-5977.
Outside assistance, including text-message support, is available by visiting www.smokefree.gov, www.thetruth.com or www.ycq2.org.