Young people are showing up at hospitals with lungs that look like those of 70-year-olds. Around the country, people of all ages are suffering from a mysterious lung illness, and vaping could be to blame. Federal health officials are looking into the cases of 450 people hospitalized with breathing illnesses after using e-cigarettes and vaping devices, and at least six deaths have been linked to a vaping-related lung illness.
And there’s not just one set of symptoms to look out for. Affected individuals present a variety of symptoms when they arrive at the hospital. For example, one 18-year-old patient complained of chest pain, nausea, fever, and shortness of breath. He was sent to the ICU within 48 hours of arriving at the hospital where doctors diagnosed him with an acute lung injury. That patient ended up being connected to a breathing tube and was placed into a medically induced coma for a week. Another patient, who was 19 years old, suffered from coughing, chest pain, extreme weight loss, and nodules in the lungs. Most patients had nausea or vomiting as well as breathing problems. A third of the confirmed cases were serious enough to need a breathing tube.
Health professionals are taking action to figure out what’s going wrong with vaping. The Center for Disease Control, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, state and local health departments, and other public health partners have mobilized to investigate a “multistate outbreak” of pulmonary diseases. The outbreak is linked to vaping and has had drastic effects on individuals’ lungs and health.