person in bathroom caption 'the wind getting knocked out of me all of the sudden & realizing I can't take a deep breath in' (l) person standing in bathroom caption 'Gets diagnosed with pneumomediastinum' (c) person in bathroom speaking caption 'Chest x-ray shows air bubbles in my lungs' (r)


TikToker says they got air bubbles in their lungs thanks to vaping

A TikToker got mediastinal emphysema from vaping, calling attention to risks of the common practice


Rebekah Harding

Internet Culture

Posted on Jul 14, 2022

A TikToker shares that he was diagnosed with mediastinal emphysema, a dangerous condition where air gets trapped in the space between the lungs.

In it, he says its due to his vaping.

In the video, posted by TikToker Matthew Burke (@spoileduglybrat) on Wednesday, he says that he was eating brunch in New York City when he felt the “wind knocked out” of him and began struggling to breathe.

“Literally sprinting 30 blocks in a tube top to grand central bc I only feel safe at yale. Everyone going back to Connecticut looking at me hyperventilating in a tube top on the metro,” the text overlay reads. “I fall asleep on the train. I wake up because I cannot breathe more than one inch of air.”

The text continues that he took three aspirin and drove to the hospital at Yale after the train got in.

“Gets prioritized the second I walk into the ER. Chest x-ray shows air bubbles in my lungs. Head of thoracic surgery gets assigned to my case,” it reads. “Says I need a chest tube and/or surgery if my blood work doesn’t come back ok. My blood work comes back okay & I can breathe out strong enough to be discharged.”

However, Burke says that he was eventually diagnosed with pneumomediastinum, also known as mediastinal emphysema. According to Penn Medicine, this condition usually presents after trauma to the chest, causing air to become trapped in the space between both lungs, called the mediastinum.

But a 2020 study found that vape users tend to over-inhale when using their device, which can cause spontaneous pneumomediastinum.

In a TikTok direct message to the Daily Dot, Burke says that the hospital staff performed a test to “check for air bubbles” in his lungs.

“You take two fingers and tap them quickly over the chest and neck area. If there are air bubbles, it will feel like Rice Krispies under the skin,” Burke explains.

The video is captioned, “They said it’s from vaping but that tube top rubbed me the WRONG way.” In the comments, several users say took this experience as a sign to quit vaping.

“Me holding my vape watching this and now I’m scared I need to quit so bad,” one user wrote.

“I’m a chronic vaper of 3 years and when I’m moving really fast at work I get sharp pains in my chest and cant breathe very deep. Could be vaping :\,” another said.

While the long-term effects of vaping aren’t well studied, several users have reported developing conditions such as chronic lung disease, asthma, and cardiovascular disease.

Burke says that he has “started the process” of quitting nicotine after the diagnosis by using “nicotine patches and therapy.”

“I’m fortunate enough to live nearby an amazing hospital. Everyone on my case was amazing,” Burke told the Daily Dot.

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*First Published: Jul 14, 2022, 3:43 pm CDT