AUSTIN, Texas — As the number of people hospitalized or killed from vaping-related illnesses grows across the country, public health officials in Austin are warning individuals to stop using vaping products. Officials are currently investigating one vaping-related illness in Austin.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) opened a criminal probe into vaping in response to this widespread epidemic. According to the CDC, 16% of cases involved teenagers. 

KVUE spoke to Dr. Michael Warner and the Austin Public Health Department about how parents can help wean their children away from this product. 

First, recognize what the different types of vape products look like. Stephanie Helfman with Austin Public Health described e-cigarettes or vape pens as looking like either a highlighter or a USB drive.

Here is an e-cigarette:

e-cigarette
AP Images

This is a vape pen:

Juul Unproven Ads
FILE - This April 16, 2019, file photo, shows a Juul vape pen in Vancouver, Wash. Under intense scrutiny amid a wave of underage vaping, Juul is pushing into television with a multimillion-dollar campaign rebranding itself as a stop-smoking aid for adults trying to kick cigarettes. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer, File)
AP

If someone is smoking, Helfman encourages parents to first sit down with their child and have an open conversation. 

RELATED: Austin Public Health investigating possible vaping-related illness case

"Nicotine is very harmful to the developing youth brain. It can impact mood and attention, so its really important parents talk to teens so teens know this is a risk for them," Helfman said. 

Other options available to help individuals stop using the product include nicotine replacement, an FDA approved medication or therapy, Warner said. 

RELATED: Vaping illness count tops 500 as FDA reveals criminal investigation

Some people may use e-cigarettes in an attempt to reduce their consumption of tobacco products, but Warner said that was never something he would recommend in the first place.

"I think that’s something people have done but it's not the recommended way to do it," Warner said. 

Symptoms of vaping-related illnesses include:

  • Coughing, shortness of breath, chest pain
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Weight loss

If an individual exhibits any of these symptoms, Warner suggested seeking medical help immediately. 

WATCH: Vaping concerns across the country

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