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.
The American Vaping Association, a group that advocates for sensible regulation of vaping products, has blamed black market vaping products for the cases leading to deaths. Contaminants in these dangerous products include pesticides and heavy metals. Vitamin E is also a major concern in vaping products. If inhaled, oils like vitamin E can cause a condition that results from fat particles being inhaled into the lungs.
So far, though, the investigation has not identified any specific product or substance that is linked to all of the cases. However, many patients reported using products with liquids that contain cannabinoids, such as THC. Recently, the FDA recommended people avoid any vaping products containing THC. Cannabis markets are largely unregulated in the United States, as recreational marijuana is legal in only 11 states, creating difficulty regulating THC vaping cartridges. However, even states with regulations for recreational marijuana are facing dangerous black market and counterfeit THC cartridges.
There are some watchdog organizations sharing information on how to avoid counterfeit products. The tips include analyzing the consistency and texture of the oil and looking for a certificate of analysis. However, black market dealers have often labeled products with fraudulent stickers, so there’s no consistent way to make sure the cartridge is real or safe unless you get every cartridge tested, which is expensive.
Ultimately, the only way to stay safe from the dangers of vaping is not to vape. If you or a loved one has suffered vaping-related illness, contact our attorneys for a free and confidential case evaluation at 630-527-1595. Our legal team can help you determine if you have a case.
Blog written by Dayna Smith.