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Young people in the Midwest are suffering major breathing problems after vaping—and no one knows why

Young people in the Midwest are suffering major breathing problems after vaping—and no one knows why
[Photo: StockSnap/Pixabay]

Twenty-two young people in the Midwest have been hospitalized with serious breathing and lung problems in three Midwestern states, NBC News reports. Twelve of the cases happened in Wisconsin, six in Illinois, and another four in Minnesota. The only common thread between all the cases is that the patients reported vaping before their symptoms came on.

Those symptoms include increasing problems breathing and pneumonia-like respiratory distress. Many of the symptoms also got worse when doctors tried to treat them. In one case a 26-year-old man started feeling sick after taking a few hits from his vaping device. The next morning his symptoms got worse and he went to the hospital. By nightfall, his lungs were filling with fluid and doctors needed to put him into a medically induced coma.

But besides the common thread between all these cases being vaping, it’s unknown what particular aspects of vaping are causing the problems. “We know there are certain characteristics in common with these cases, but we have not been able to get to the bottom of exactly what aspect of the vaping habit or product or solvent or oil is causing the injury,” Dr. Emily Chapman, chief medical officer for Children’s Minnesota, told NBC News.

One worry is that all the people admitted to hospitals were affected not because of a bad liquid or faulty vaping device, but simply because they were young. As Dr. Christy Sadreameli, a pediatric pulmonologist at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, pointed out to NBC News, teen lungs are not fully developed, leaving their organs more susceptible to chemicals found in e-cigarettes.

After news of the rash of hospitalizations broke, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids told NBC, “These incidents raise serious concerns and underscore why the FDA should be reviewing e-cigarettes and determining their health impact before they are allowed on the market.”

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