Woman, 19, left fighting for life after vaping leaves her lungs looking like ‘shattered glass’

A NINETEEN-year-old was left fighting for her life after vaping left her lungs looking like “shattered glass”.

The woman went to A&E after suffering from shortness of breath, chills, a cough and a high temperature for a week.

Medscape.comA woman’s lung’s looked like ‘ground glass’ due to damage caused by vaping[/caption]

Doctors initially diagnosed her with bacterial pneumonia, after chest X-rays showed “ground glass opacities” in her lungs.

These are hazy areas that show up on lung scans, indicating damage caused by pneumonia or other respiratory diseases.

The term comes from a technique in glass-making where the surface of the glass is blasted by sand to give the glass a hazy or frosted look.

Normally lungs appear black on X-rays and CT scans, but hazy grey areas suggest that air sacks in the lungs could be filled with fluid or other substances.

After a course of antibiotics failed to clear up the woman’s symptoms, doctors were left scratching their heads.

It was only after she shared that she’d been using her boyfriend’s vapes for the last month that doctors were able to diagnose her with e-vaping–induced lung injury (EVALI).

EVALI is a term used to describe acute respiratory illness caused by the toxic effects of chemicals used in vaping.

According to medics, the e-cig induced illness presents like an atypical viral illness, with shortness of breath, cough, chest pain, and fever being the most common symptoms. 

The woman suffered through her symptoms for a week before visiting the emergency department, a Case Challenge report published to Medscape said.

Working as a receptionists at a medical office, she initially assumed she’d picked something up from one of the patients.

The “otherwise healthy” 19-year-old was prescribed a five day course of antibiotics at her local urgent care, which failed to ease her breathlessness and fever.

Finding that shortness of breath was becoming “distressing”, she visited the emergency department for further tests.

Medics noted that she had a 102.9 °F (39C) fever, as well as low blood oxygen levels and decided to give her oxygen before carrying out lung scans and testing her for Covid.

She was initially diagnosed with bacterial pneumonia and given antibiotics, but medics called in a pulmonologist when her “atypical symptoms” failed to clear up after 48 hours.

“When questioned by the pulmonologist about tobacco use, the patient reported vaping e-cigarettes over the last month,” medics wrote in the case report.

“Patient reports daily use of e-cigarettes given to her by her boyfriend.”

Once she’d been diagnosed with EVALI, the patient was given steroids – which improved her symptoms – and advised to swear off vapes.

“Public health reports show that around 2600 patients were hospitalised due to EVALI in 2020, signalling the start of a small epidemic of EVALI cases across the United States,” the report authors said.

“Most patients who are hospitalised with e-cigarette or vaping-product–associated lung injury will require admission in the intensive care unit and often need mechanical ventilation.

“Prognosis remains good once the disease is properly identified and treated, with a focus on refraining from e-cigarette use to prevent recurrence.”

Unlike cigarettes, vapes work by heating liquid to form a vapour that’s inhaled.

Smoking vs. vaping

VAPING has been touted as an effective tool to help people quit smoking.

Though vaping is substantially less harmful than smoking, the habit isn’t completely harmless and comes with its own set of risks.

The NHS only recommends it for adult smokers, to support quitting smoking.

GP and author Dr Philippa Kaye explained to The Sun that the differences between vaping and smoking – and whether one is better than the other – is “complicated”.

“In a nutshell, vaping is better than smoking, but breathing air is better than vaping at all.”

Vaping exposes users to far fewer toxins – and at lower levels – than smoking cigarettes.

Switching to vaping significantly reduces your exposure to toxins that can cause cancer, lung disease, and diseases of the heart and circulation like heart attack and stroke.

These diseases are not caused by nicotine, which is relatively harmless to health. But research has still linked vaping to a higher risk of failure and lung disease.

Health risks of cigarettes

Smokers are more likely than nonsmokers to develop heart disease, stroke, and lung cancer
Smokers are at greater risk for diseases that affect the heart and blood vessels 
Smoking can cause lung disease by damaging your airways and the small air sacs
Smoking can cause cancer almost anywhere in your body
It affects overall health too, such as your mouth, eyes, immune system and fertility

Health risks of vaping

They can cause side effects such as throat and mouth irritation, headache, cough and feeling sick
They could lead to tooth decay
They could damage heart health
They could cause lung disease
They could slow brain development

Read more on how vaping can affect your health here.

Sources: NHS, CDC

Vitamin E acetate is a chemical added to some vaping products, which has been linked to EVALI.

A The New England Journal of Medicine suggested the substance irritates the lungs.

One study detected vitamin E acetate in the lung fluid of 48 out of 51 EVALI patients.

By contrast, lung fluid samples taken from healthy people did not contain the vitamin.

Using vaping devices that contain THC has also been linked to the condition.

According to Yale Medicine lung health experts, EVALI may cause the following symptoms:

Shortness of breath

Cough

Chest pain

Fever and chills

Diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain

Rapid heartbeat

Rapid and shallow breathing 

While EVALI has been the subject of much research in the US, with the CDC launching a probe into a spate of illnesses in 2019.

But studies suggest that it occurs less commonly in the UK.

Vaping – considered to be less dangerous than smoking – has still been linked to a number of health issues, including lung disease, tooth decay and damage to heart health.

Vaping has been linked to a number of health issues

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