Vaping-related lung illness killed 6, medical scans reveal massive organ damages

Man exhales e-cigarette vapour in park in Kiev
Representational image Reuters

As US authorities reported a sixth death possibly from vaping-related lung illnesses, experts continue to examine the damages caused by vaping, including a blistered or collapsed lung called pneumothorax, inflammation, damage to the alveoli (or the lungs' air sacs) and fat particles in lung tissues called lipoid pneumonia.

At least 450 cases of possible vaping-related lung illnesses have been reported by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the US this year, with symptoms including shortness of breath, fever, nausea, gastrointestinal issues, as well as weight loss. The symptoms vary individually and may come up within days or weeks or even years after people started vaping.

Dr Dana Meaney-Delman from the CDC advised individuals to give up vaping. In a media address, she said: "As of now, this is the primary means of preventing the severe lung disease."

She added it was still unclear what caused these life-threatening lung diseases, but they tend to appear within days or weeks of e-cigarette use by patients.

Junaid Khan, a heart and lung surgeon in California, said he performed surgery on an 18-year-old young man suffering a blistered lung, a dangerous problem leading to breathing problems.

Khan said he had no proof that the disease occurred due to vaping but had a hunch it was related to a marijuana device the patient was using from a few months.

According to a group of researchers, who examined over 30 such cases, many patients have similar patterns of damage to their lungs and many of the injuries could be related to inhalation of oils included in the "e-juice".

Melody Pirzada, pediatric pulmonary chief at a New York hospital, told Insider that inflammation, believed to be linked to vaping, was rapidly spreading in the lungs of an 18-year-old patient, who was initially admitted with chest pain, fever, coughing and was later diagnosed with acute respiratory distress and fluid in his lungs.

Tweeting a now-viral photo of his lungs, Chance Ammirata, an 18-year-old former vape user, said the partial collapse and the black dots in the pictures were because of vaping.

Professor Robert Tarran, who studies vaping at the University of North Carolina Marisco Lung Institute, explained spontaneous pneumothorax occurs when blebs or small pockets of air in the lungs break off, causing the lung to collapse.

He said the condition was particularly common among tall, skinny males, adding that "There is no doubt that vaping is doing stuff to people, but it's not clear what."

Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump on Wednesday said the US Food and Drug Administration would put out in a few weeks "some very strong recommendations" regarding the use of flavoured e-cigarettes, suggesting a ban on such products in the market.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, who attended an Oval Office meeting with the President, first lady Melania Trump, and the acting commissioner of the FDA, said "all flavoured e-cigarettes other than tobacco would have to be removed from the market" after the newly proposed enforcement policy comes into effect.

The FDA has particularly urged people to avoid products containing THC -- tetrahydrocannabinol.