A 19-year-old college student says she was hospitalized in intensive care and nearly died after vaping on Juul and other e-cigarettes destroyed her lung tissue, causing her to come down with a 104-degree fever.
Claire Chung, who lives in the Washington, DC, area, shared her harrowing story on Instagram on December 29, when she posted a photograph showing her lying in a hospital bed connected to intravenous tubes and a machine.
‘For the past 3 weeks, I had a consistent high fever of 104 with no other symptoms whatsoever,’ she wrote in the post which eventually went viral.
‘From this, we assumed the flu or a cold so after a couple weeks of taking [over-the-counter] meds with nothing helping, I went to get checked out further.
Claire Chung, 19, posted an image on her Instagram on December 29 showing her hospitalized at Holly Cross Hospital in Silver Spring, Maryland
Chung also posted images of the CT scans taken of her chest. The scans (bottom) show that her lung tissue was completely destroyed, according to doctors. The image on top shows what a healthy pair of lungs would look like
Chung blames her use of Juuls and other e-cigarettes, saying she nearly died as a result
‘After considerations of malaria, autoimmune disorders, and many many other tests, a chest x-ray showed what they thought was slight pneumonia in the lower area of my left lung.
‘After being on two antibiotics for 48 hours, the fevers were still spiking to 104, so I went into the ER on Christmas morning.
According to Chung’s Instagram, she is a student at the Culinary Institute of America. She is seen left with an unidentified male
HOW COULD VAPING BE HARMFUL?
E-cigarettes have the potential to benefit some people, by helping them quit smoking. But scientists still have a lot to learn about whether e-cigarettes are truly effective for quitting smoking and what the long-term risks are.
Nicotine is already known to be highly addictive and harm adolescent brain development, which continues into the early to mid-20s.
E-cigarettes produce an aerosol by heating a liquid that usually contains nicotine. Aerosol is inhaled into the lungs and can contain potentially harmful substances, including heavy metals like lead, volatile organic compounds, and cancer-causing agents.
US health officials, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), are investigating an outbreak of e-cigarette or vaping, product use associated lung injury (EVALI).
The mystery illness has swept across the states. Officials have identified Vitamin E acetate as a chemical of concern. THC is present in most of the fluid samples collected from the lungs of ill people, and most patients report a history of using THC-containing e-cigarette, or vaping, products.
‘Popcorn lung’ is the nickname for bronchiolitis obliterans, a condition which damages the smallest airways in the lungs and has been linked to people with vaping-related breathing problems. However, there’s no good evidence that e-cigarettes could cause the lung condition, according to Cancer Research UK.
The flavourings in electronic cigarettes may damage blood vessels in the same way as heart disease, according to research published in June 2018.
The chemicals used to give the vapour flavours, such as cinnamon, strawberry and banana, can cause inflammation in cells in the arteries, veins and heart.
They cause the body to react in a way that mimics the early signs of heart disease, heart attacks or strokes, the study by Boston University found.
Other recent studies have also suggested smoking e-cigarettes could cause DNA mutations which lead to cancer, and enable pneumonia-causing bacteria to stick to the lungs easier.
Researchers at New York University subjected human bladder and lung cells to e-cigarette vapor, which is marketed as being healthier than tobacco.
They found the cells mutated and became cancerous much faster than expected and mice exposed to the vapour also suffered significant DNA damage.
In another study, scientists at Queen Mary University, London, found vaping makes users more likely to catch pneumonia – just like smoking tobacco or breathing in traffic fumes.
The vapour from e-cigarettes helps bacteria which cause the condition to stick to the cells that line the airways, they said.
The effect occurs with traditional cigarette smoke and those who are exposed to air pollution high in particulates from vehicle exhausts.
‘I was hospitalized and given IV fluids and antibiotics. Between the emergency, infectious disease, and pulmonary departments, they exhausted all tests and options and still nothing was helping.
‘A CT scan of my lungs was ordered and it revealed extremely disturbing results.
‘Healthy lungs on a scan should be black. My 19-year-old lungs were completely hazy and white in the scans, entirely covering both lungs.
‘I was taken by ambulance to be admitted into more intensive care.
‘They couldn’t determine whether the scans were showing fluid, blood, bacteria, infection, etc, so they were still unable to actually treat the cause of my symptoms.
‘After conducting many more tests and a bronchoscopy, it was determined that there was no infection and that my lung tissue was just completely destroyed from using Juuls and vapes and oil cartridges.
‘Not only is there severe damage in my lungs, but from when I started school to when I graduate, my only break was this month of December.
‘That means if this had happened a couple of weeks earlier or a couple of weeks later, I would not have had access to healthcare and this would never have been caught.
‘In that case, I would most likely be DEAD within the next month.’
‘Please take it from personal experience that this is NOT worth it from something as stupid as a nicotine device.
‘The stories that you’re hearing online are REAL.
‘Death was a VERY real possibility, I am still hospitalized on a laundry list of IV drugs and steroids, I may have permanent scarring in my lungs, and it’s all because of Juuls and carts.’
DailyMail.com has reached out to Juul for comment.
Earlier this week, Chung posted images of the CT scans of her lungs – juxtaposing them with a normal CT.
‘My bronchial tubes are EXTREMELY inflamed beyond belief and all the white haziness (which should be black and clear on a healthy scan) is damaged tissue,’ she wrote.
‘When the pulmonologist came to me with the results, he was in complete shock.
‘He genuinely had no reaction other than “Wow.”
‘This is a lung specialist who looks at diseased scans everyday for a living telling a NINETEEN year old girl that he’s never seen anything like this before.
‘Because there is no research on Juuls/carts/vapes, they could see all this damage but could not treat it.
‘The doctors couldn’t tell whether this was blood, fluid, bacteria, a virus, inflammation, etc.
‘I could hear the tension and apprehension in every one of my doctors voices of not knowing whether or not they could help me or if I was going to live or die.
‘The scariest part is that even with the extent of the damage, I never once felt any of it.
Chung writes that she is still in the hospital as of this past Thursday. She is being given intravenous fluids and steroids
‘I never experienced any shortness of breath, coughing, wheezing, chest pain, or ANY signs respiratory distress or issues. It is truly a SILENT killer.
‘Just because you can’t feel it doesn’t mean it’s not happening.
‘You don’t understand regret until your doctors are staring you in the face telling you they don’t know if they can save your life, knowing in your head that you willingly brought it upon yourself despite countless warnings to stop.’
So far, 57 Americans are believed to have died of vaping-related illness.
The latest victim is a 15-year-old boy from Texas, according to officials.
As of Thursday, 2,602 people have been hospitalized with lung illnesses linked to e-cigarettes in every US state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Most of the victims are male and under the age of 35, with ages of those who died ranging from 15 to 75.
Increases in the number of cases appear to have slowed, but the illnesses continue to be prevalent and severe.
The 57 deaths have been confirmed in 27 states and DC, with Georgia, Illinois and Indiana having the highest number of vaping deaths at five each.
Four deaths each have been confirmed in California; three deaths each in Massachusetts and Minnesota; and two deaths each confirmed in Florida, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, New York, Oregon and Tennessee.
Meanwhile, at least one death each has been confirmed in Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Washington, DC.
The CDC announced on Thursday that 2,602 people have fallen ill in every US state and 57 people have died in 27 states (red) and DC due to mysterious lung illnesses linked to vaping. There is one unconfirmed death in Texas.
According to the CDC, about 83 percent of people who’ve fallen ill reported vaping THC, the main psychoactive component in marijuana.
By comparison, a mere 13 percent have reported exclusive use of nicotine-containing products.
CDC officials say there are ‘confident’ that vitamin E acetate, a diluting agent used in many THC vaping products, is behind the illnesses.
It was detected in 48 of 51 samples of tissues of patients with – what is being called – EVALI (e-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung illness).
‘This is a serious clinical condition affecting young people across the country and it’s completely preventable,’ Dr Anne Schuchat, CDC principal deputy director, said in a press briefing last month.
‘It is clear that the outbreak represents a new phenomenon and not a recognition of a common syndrome that had evaded our attention.’
While vitamin E is safe as a vitamin pill or to use on the skin, inhaling oily droplets of it can be harmful.
It’s sticky and stays in the lungs, so much so that Dr James Pirkle of the CDC likened it to honey.
Scientists theorized that the oil might be coating the lungs, triggering inflammation and damage.
In fact, it causes burns that have been likened to those suffered by soldiers attacked with mustard gas during World War I.
Last week, the US Food and Drug Administration’s announced a ban on most flavored e-cigarettes in an effort to curb the rise of youth vaping.
Only two flavors, menthol and tobacco, are being sold in stores.
The CDC has not changed its warning against using these illegitimate products and continues to urge Americans who don’t use e-cigarettes not to start.
Although the agency says that smokers who have switched to vaping should not return to using combustible cigarettes, the CDC also advises vaping products should ‘never be used by youths, young adults or women who are pregnant.’
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