Vaping has become popular as an alternative means of smoking cessation, and people can choose from various juice types and vaping rigs of all shapes and sizes.
Slender, ready-to-use vape pens hold pre-filled mini cartridges and were originally meant to remove the oral fixation component of smoking.
When introduced, vaping was thought of as a way to reduce the negative effects of smoking, and as juices have varying levels of tobacco, one could step down to gradually lower amounts until they are no longer physically addicted to nicotine. It has made non-smokers out of people who never thought they stood a chance against nicotine withdrawal.
However, some people do not see vaping as an alternative to smoking but simply vape. Yet, the problem arises as the long-term effects of this practice are not fully known, as it was created to be a short-term thing, a step into a nicotine-free life.
The term “vapor” implies that it’s nothing, and the two most common ingredients in e-juices include propylene glycol and vegetable glycerine, both generally regarded as safe. Yet, these juices also contain numerous other ingredients which are not.
According to CNN, reports of vaping-related death have spiked this year, with 6 so far in 2019. The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that since 2018, nearly 200 people have contracted severe respiratory illnesses after vaping, and all of them were adults or teenagers who had used some kind of vaping device or electronic cigarette.
A girl from Utah, Maddie Nelson, felt the negative effects of vaping on her own skin this summer as well.
The 18-year-old girl was placed in a medically induced coma to save her lungs.
Maddie started vaping zero nicotine liquids three years ago, before gradually increasing to 3mg of nicotine. Earlier this year, she lost her appetite and felt mild symptoms like nausea and chest pain for some time. Yet, when they became acute, and she experienced intense back and kidney pain and a 103- degree fever, she was admitted to the hospital.
By the time she finally got there, her lungs were severely inflamed, and even though she received oxygen, it was not enough.
Days later, Maddie, who is the youngest sibling in the family, was rushed to intensive care where she could barely draw a breath. The X-ray of her chest showed her condition was severe, so her family and doctors decided to put her in a coma.
On her GoFundMe page, Nelson’s sister Andrea Fullmer wrote that it was a hard decision to make, but Maddie’s condition aggravated fast and they were scared they may never be able to talk to her again.
She was in a coma for 3 days, so that her body could rest and recuperate. During this time, doctors conducted tests and found that she suffered from eosinophilic pneumonia.
It is a rare acute respiratory illness of varying severity that includes a presentation as acute respiratory distress syndrome with fatal outcome.
After she woke up from her coma, doctors told Maddie that her illness was likely caused by vaping.
Maddie then realized the real damage vaping had caused. She explained that by inhaling the moisture [from e-liquids], one creates the perfect environment for bacteria to grow inside your lungs and for infection to start.
She added that she had fat particles growing inside her lungs that were related to the glycerin in vape juice. Her lungs were, in fact, full of fluid, and doctors told her that her chest X-rays were one of the worst they’ve ever seen.
Maddie also received steroids to help combat the inflammation and still needed oxygen at night for tightness in her chest. Her family is hopeful she will make a full recovery.
Writing on a GoFundMe page to raise money for medical fees, her siblings Sadie, Andrea and Dylan warned against vaping, claiming that Maddie’s generation and those after her are the guinea pigs of the popularizing of the ‘vape life’, and after a few years, the scary side effects of the practice are visible. They advise others to rethink their decision to vape.
Maddie shared her story on Facebook as well, and she urged people to quit vaping. She claims there is “ something crazy in these pens that is not safe” and almost cost her her life.
“I used to just tell myself it won’t happen to me, but it can and will happen to you too…take my advice, don’t smoke, don’t vape. #vape #stopthevape.”