CDC Investigating 153 Lung Illness Reports Potentially Linked To Vaping

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Topline: 153 reports of lung illness potentially caused by e-cigarettes are being investigated by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), as doctors struggle to treat patients and scientists work to understand the effects of vaping on the human body.

  • Patients, mostly teenagers and young adults, reported vaping with either nicotine or THC (the psychoactive ingredient of marjiuana) prior to becoming ill.
  • Symptoms include shortness of breath, difficulty breathing or chest pain, along with gastrointestinal distress, vomiting and fatigue.
  • Some patients were hospitalized and put on mechanical breathing assistance, but no deaths have been reported.
  • Doctors said that patients arrive showing signs of respiratory infection, but typical treatments, like antibiotics, don’t help.
  • According to the CDC, the reports came from 16 states, and it is working with health departments in five of those to try and find the source of the illness, like a specific chemical ingredient used in e-cigarettes.
  • The American Vaping Association, a pro-vaping organization, claimed the lung illnesses were caused by e-cigarette products containing THC or synthetic drugs, and purchased on the street, as opposed to a retail store.

Surprising fact: Lung illness potentially linked to vaping is such a new phenomenon that hospitals don’t have a category to track those reports. Which means more cases exist, but hospitals may not be looking for, or properly reporting them.

Crucial quote: “People had the impression that vaping was something safe. They don’t connect new symptoms with vaping,” said Dr. Humberto Choi, a Cleveland Clinic pulmonologist who has treated several of these cases.

Key background: The FDA is already investigating 127 reports of seizure possibly linked to vaping. Although scientists are still unsure of vaping’s long-term health impact, they believe that e-cigarettes are a less dangerous nicotine source than tobacco cigarettes. But the CDC recommends that all nonsmokers stay away from vaping. E-cigarettes were a $2.3 billion business in 2018, and manufacturers are facing FDA approval to continue selling their products.

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