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Teen Allegedly Develops ‘Wet Lung’ After Only Three Weeks of Vaping

Doctors at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center recently reported the case of an 18-year-old woman who developed a life-threatening condition known as ‘wet lung’ after using electronic cigarettes for three months.

The woman, whose identity was not revealed for privacy reasons, had reportedly decided to try e-cigarettes as a way to calm her nerves while working as a waitress at a rural Pennsylvania diner. However, only three weeks after she started vaping, the young woman started experiencing symptoms like coughing and heavy breathing that rapidly worsened to the point where she had to be taken to the emergency room.

Physicians at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center also recorded other issues, like sudden stabbing pains in the chest with every inhalation and exhalation. However, she was not feverish and did not exhibit any upper respiratory symptoms like a runny nose or nasal congestion. The only respiratory condition the woman reported was a mild asthma that occasionally required her to use an inhaler.

The case study recently published in the medical journal Pediatrics states that the patient’s coughing became more frequent, and, despite being administered antibiotics, her general condition rapidly worsened. Soon, she suffered respiratory failure and had to be connected to a breathing machine. Doctors also had to insert tubes on both sides of her chest in order to drain the fluid they eventually discovered in her lungs.

“She was unable to get enough oxygen into her blood from her lungs and required a mechanical ventilator (respirator) to breathe for her until her lungs recovered,” said Dr. Daniel Weiner, one of the patient’s doctors, and co-author of the report.

The woman was eventually diagnosed with hypersensitivity pneumonitis, also known as ‘wet lung’, an inflammation of the lungs caused by an allergic reaction to chemicals or dust. According to Dr. Casey Sommerfeld, one of the patient’s doctors, in this case, the chemicals in the vaporized e-liquid caused lung damage and inflammation, prompting an immune response from the body.

“This immune response can lead to increased inflammation and ‘leaky’ blood vessels, which can lead to fluid accumulation in the lungs,” Sommerfeld said.

“The long-term effects of vaping are still unknown due to the relative newness of the product,” Sommerfeld, now a general paediatrician at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, told CBS News. “There are a few case reports involving adults that developed respiratory distress following electronic cigarette use, and I suspect we will see more if the use of electronic cigarettes continues to be popular.”

Once the diagnosis was set, the woman was treated with an IV of methylprednisolone, a drug used to treat severe allergic reactions, and her health improved rapidly.

It’s important to note that this is, to my knowledge, the first ever reported case of wet lung linked to the use of electronic cigarettes. While I completely agree that the chemicals in the e-liquid may have triggered the poor woman’s immune response, I certainly do not agree with the way in which both the authors of the report and mainstream media have portrayed vaping as a potentially life threatening habit.

Ilona Jaspers, a professor in the Departments of Pediatrics and Microbiology and Immunology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, told CNN that this case study suggests that electronic cigarettes will cause negative health consequences that had not been seen with conventional cigarettes, and highlights “the importance of potential adverse health effects associated with e-cigarette use”.

Do you know what the most common cause of hypersensitivity pneumonitis is? It’s the inhalation of certain dusts, either in the workplace or during recreational activities, but I have yet to hear anyone labelling those as life-threatening for this reason. And let’s not forget the patient’s “mild asthma”. Is there a remote possibility that it may have played a role in the allergic reaction? I’m pretty sure the answer is ‘yes’, so let’s not panic just yet.

This was one case in tens if not hundreds of millions of vapers worldwide, but the media is trying to make it seem like an epidemic that needs to be stopped. None of the mainstream sources that have reported about this case have even mentioned the many scientifically-proven benefits of switching from smoking tobacco cigarettes to vaping. I wonder why that is…?

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