The woman was treated with an IV of methylprednisolone, a drug used to treat severe allergic reactions.
She improved swiftly and was weaned off the mechanical support system five days after being admitted to the hospital.
“It is difficult to speculate on how frequently this could happen; however, there are a few case reports involving adults that developed respiratory distress following electronic cigarette use,” Sommerfeld said. “As electronic cigarette use increases, we will be seeing more case reports and side effects.”
Ilona Jaspers, a professor in the Departments of Pediatrics and Microbiology and Immunology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said the case study suggests that e-cigarettes will cause negative health consequences that had not been seen with conventional cigarettes.
Jaspers, who was not involved in the study, added that even though it describes just one patient, it “highlights the importance of potential adverse health effects associated with e-cigarette use.”
Additionally, the diagnosis of symptoms related to a number of serious lung conditions suggests that the negative health effects of e-cigarettes may “manifest in several different ways,” she said.
Her research has shown that certain e-cigarette flavor chemicals significantly reduce the function of immune cells.
Sommerfeld noted that, as vaping products contain nicotine, “vaping can cause side effects including dizziness, headaches, nausea, racing heart, anxiety and difficulty with sleep. Nicotine is known to be addictive, and children can become hooked on electronic cigarettes.”
Jaspers said that, “in addition to nicotine addiction, which by itself will have effects on the adolescent brain, we just do not know yet what the long term health effects of exposure to e-cigarettes may be. We also do not know whether potential health effects caused by using e-cigarettes are more pronounced” in teens.
The rapid spread of vaping was highlighted by a 2016 report from the US surgeon general that cited a 900% increase in e-cigarette use by high school students from 2011 to 2015. Meanwhile, the 2016 National Youth Tobacco Survey noted that 1.7 million high school students said they had used e-cigarettes in the previous 30 days.
“I hope we can find a way to quickly reverse this trend,” Jaspers said.
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