An 18-year-old teenager was hospitalized with a serious lung condition after just three weeks of vaping, according to a study published this week in the medical journal Pediatrics. The woman, a hostess at a Pennsylvania restaurant, developed hypersensitivity pneumonitis (HP), which occurs when the lungs react to antigens and become inflamed.
Her symptoms were so severe that she had to visit the emergency room at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center where she was intubated, or put on a ventilator to help her breathe. Doctors said she was coughing, had difficulty breathing, and experienced sharp stabbing pains in her chest while inhaling and exhaling.
The unnamed patient said she’d had minor asthma in the past and only recently starting smoking e-cigarettes. Because she didn’t show any signs of infection—runny nose, congestion, digestive problems—doctors believe her condition was caused by vaping.
“We cannot prove beyond any doubt that it was due to an e-cigarette,” study co-author Dr. Daniel Weiner told BuzzFeed News. But, “development of her symptoms around the same time she started using an e-cigarette allowed us to conclude that was the cause.”
The woman was treated with steroids and needed to have tubes inserted into her lungs to drain excess fluid.
“This should prompt pediatricians to discuss the potential harms of e-cigarette use with their patients,” the study read.
There have been numerous studies on the effects of e-cigarettes, but a lack of long-term understanding remains a concern. Vaping is generally believed to be safer than smoking traditional combustible cigarettes, but researchers and medical experts agree there’s not enough evidence to recommend them as a consequence-free alternative.
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H/T BuzzFeed News