Electronic Cigarette Use Led To “Wet Lung” Disease For Teen After Just 3 Weeks

Amid increasing popularity of e-cigarettes, particularly among teens and young adults, a new case report details problems experienced by an 18-year old woman from Pennsylvania, who developed “wet lung” disease after just three weeks of vaping. 

Researchers at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh filed what is believed to be the first case of wet lung disease linked to electronic cigarette use in the May issue of the journal Pediatrics.

The young Pennsylvania woman went into an emergency room after developing severe respiratory symptoms, including a severe cough and difficulty breathing, according to the report.

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Her symptoms began to worsen quickly, resulting in stabbing chest pains with every inhale and exhale she took. She was admitted to the pediatric intensive care unit at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

She had no upper respiratory symptoms, like a runny nose or nasal congestion, and had no fever to indicate it was viral.

The woman eventually suffered respiratory failure and hypoxia, which is when the body is unable to get enough oxygen into the blood from the lungs. Doctors had to intubate and she required ventilation to keep her breathing.

Chest tubes were placed in her lungs to drain the fluid that had built up in her lungs. Doctors diagnosed her with hypersensitivity pneumonitis, or wet lung.

Wet lung is inflammation of the lungs from an allergic reaction to chemicals or dust. Other side effects of e-cigarettes have been reported, such as an increased risk of heart problems, but this is believed to be the first case of wet lung reported in response to chemicals from e-cigarettes. She indicated she had only been vaping for three weeks before symptoms began.

While this is the first time wet lung has been linked to e-cigarette use, another study indicated vaping increases a user’s risk of developing pneumonia and other lung infections. The vapor increases the likelihood of bacteria sticking to the cells that line the nasal passages and airways.

In the case report, intravenous methylprednisolone therapy was initiated to treat the severe allergic reaction in the woman’s lungs. Her health began to improve and she was eventually taken off ventilation after five days.

Researchers indicate the chemicals in e-cigarettes led to the inflammation and lung damage, which triggered her immune response.

A study published earlier this year indicated e-cigarettes expose users to high levels of toxic chemicals, putting users at risk of side effects. Another study indicated vaping actually exposes users to high levels of heavy metals which are extremely toxic to the body.

The heightened risk of respiratory problems and exposure to toxic chemicals is especially concerning since e-cigarettes are now the most popular form of tobacco use among the nation’s youth. Some studies also warn that e-cigarettes increase the risk a teen may try smoking traditional tobacco cigarettes.

The new case report suggests e-cigarettes may pose certain risks not seen with traditional cigarettes, according to the researchers. They suggest doctors warn patients about the risks vaping may pose to the lungs.

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