In another potentially damning news headline for the vaping industry, health officials in Wisconsin are reporting at least eight cases of “severe lung damage” possibly caused by vaping E-cigarettes.
Doctors reported their findings to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (WisDHS) earlier in July. For the time being, the exact cause of lung trauma for the eight teens is unclear, although all of them have a history of vaping. The department explained that all eight of the teens had experienced coughing, fatigue, nausea, and chest pain. According to reports, the teens were experiencing these nasty symptoms for months but were eventually forced to seek medical assistance.
Soon after the teens were hospitalized, medical imaging showed they all had severe lung damage. Some type of viral infection hasn’t been ruled out but is unlikely as the teens don’t live in the same area. The only connection between them, in fact, is that they are all regular E-cigarette users.
In an urgent advisory statement released by WisDHS, they wrote, “All patients reported vaping in the weeks and months prior to hospital admission. The names and types of products used remain unknown, and patient interviews are ongoing.”
The advisory added, “Clinicians are encouraged to remain alert for potential cases among persons presenting with progressive respiratory symptoms who report a history of inhalation drug use, particularly vaping.”
While the connection between the lung issues for these eight teens and vaping needs to clarified and verified, it comes after months of bad press for the nascent vaping industry. The recent controversy over Juul’s advertising ethics and reports of people falling ill from vaping have the sector on the back foot, hoping their E-liquid and vaping devices aren’t the culprits. That said, it’s widely accepted that vaping is a safer alternative to smoking, and even the National Health Service in Britain believes that to be the case.
Michael Gutzeit, chief medical officer of Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, where the eight teens were sent to, said, “The popularity of vaping is obviously skyrocketing among our kids, and its dangers are still relatively unknown. We don’t have a lot of information about the long-term effects or even the short-term effects,” he said. “What we do know is vaping is dangerous. It’s especially dangerous in teenagers and young adults,” although Gutzeit backed that claim with no evidence.
The good news is that all eight of the teens are on the mend and feeling better. Vaping is touted as being a great alternative to smoking, and while it may be safer, we really don’t know what short or long-term effects E-liquid has on the lungs. The answer to that will only become apparent over the next 20-40 years when the long-term effects of vaping can be soundly established.