Lung Illness Linked to Vaping Baffles Doctors

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State and federal health officials have seen more than 100 cases of a mysterious lung illness pop up in 14 states, and now they believe it is somehow linked to vaping and e-cigarette use. Many of the patients, ranging from teens to young adults, have been placed in intensive care. 

31 cases have been confirmed, but there are dozens more that are still under investigation. Symptoms include difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, and chest pain, often leading to hospitalization. Patients have also reported fever, cough, and vomiting, and health officials are now warning doctors to be on the lookout for this yet-to-be-known lung illness that could cause serious injury. 

Existing cases have appeared in California, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. A handful of the cases have already found that the pulmonary illness could be linked to e-cigarette use among adolescents and young adults, though the CDC is actively probing an additional 94 cases to determine a definite cause. As reported by Wisconsin’s Department of Health Services, the disease initially seems to be caused by infection, but tests are turning up negative, further baffling physicians. 

CDC spokeswomen Kathy Harben said there is no evidence that this condition stems from an infectious disease. The cases, which appear similar in nature, seem to be linked to vaping, though it is not determined whether it is from using the devices themselves, or the specific ingredients or contaminants found in the smoke. Many of the patients have reported having used some form of vaping, whether it be nicotine, marijuana-based products, or DIY “homebrews.” 

Pulmonary illnesses have been linked to vaping in the past, but this marks the first time doctors have identified a pattern. With an estimated 3.6 million middle and high-schoolers using vapes, doctors expect more cases similar to this mysterious illness will pop up in the future. 

Vaping has exploded in popularity over the past few years, much in thanks to leading brand Juul, which has become a favorite among the teen and young adult crowd. While often seen as a safer method of smoking when compared to cigarettes, vaping is not without health risks. Compared to cigarettes, there is far less research out there on the long term health effects of vaping. For years, vaping was assumed to be safe, but now we are faced with the reality that this is far from the case.

Avid writer and reader with a curious mind. I'm always looking to get the most out of life! Follow me on Twitter @whatsaschoon

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