E-cigarette use, also known as vaping, has become popular across all ages. Hundreds of people across the country have been sickened by a severe lung disease linked to e-cigarette use. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warns the public not to use e-cigarettes due to the potential damage to the lungs.
E-cigarettes are devices that deliver an aerosol to the user through liquid heating. The liquid contains flavorings, nicotine, and other chemicals. E-cigarette products come in devices, refill pods, liquids, and cartridges.
CDC warns against vaping after series of lung-disease cases. Image Credit: Aleksandr Yu / Shutterstock
Alarming increase in cases of severe lung disease
The rise of mysterious and deadly lung diseases linked to vaping, had doctors and public health experts look for a definitive cause. As of September 6, over 450 possible cases of severe lung illness associated with e-cigarette use have been reported across 33 states and 1 U.S. territory. In August, the number of suspected cases was 94, and in just a month, the number increased to hundreds.
There have been five deaths confirmed on Illinois, Indiana, California, Oregon, and Minnesota. Now, the CDC and other health agencies are working to determine if the cases are confirmed or probable after examining the medical records of the patients.
The severe lung disease is characterized by signs and symptoms such as cough, fatigue, shortness of breath, difficulty of breathing, unexplained weight loss, chest pain, and fatigue. Other patients reported fever, vomiting, and diarrhea.
The patients reported using e-cigarette devices in the weeks and months before they were hospitalized.
Clinical similarities among patients
The initial findings of investigations point to clinical similarities among those affected by serious lung disease. The patients also reported similar exposures, symptoms, and clinical findings.
Most of the patients, but not all, also reported using THC-containing products, and some used a combination of THC and nicotine-containing products.
Moreover, the CDC reports that there is no evidence of infectious diseases in the patients afflicted with lung disease. The disease is more likely linked to chemical exposure. However, the health experts emphasize that it is too early to determine a single product or substance common to all cases.
“We are committed to finding out what is making people sick,” Dr. Robert R. Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in a statement.
“All available information is being carefully analyzed, and these initial findings are helping us narrow the focus of our investigation and get us closer to the answers needed to save lives,” he added.
The CDC and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are working together to combine all data about vaping exposure, which stems from product sample testing and clinical testing results to identify the cause of the mysterious illness.
“Our laboratory is working closely with our federal and state partners to identify the products or substances that may be causing the illnesses and have received more than 120 samples from the states so far,” Dr. Ned Sharpless, Acting FDA Commissioner, said.
“The FDA is analyzing these for a broad range of chemicals but no one substance, including Vitamin E acetate, has been identified in all of the samples tested. Importantly, identifying any compounds present in the samples will be one piece of the puzzle but won’t necessarily answer questions about causality, which makes our ongoing work critical,” he added.
Clinicians to report possible cases
The CDC encourages doctors to report possible cases of lung disease related to e-cigarette use to state health departments to initiate a further evaluation. Moreover, if the physician suspects an e-cigarette to be a possible cause of the disease, he or she should perform a detailed history interview the substances, where the product came from, and how was it obtained.
While there is an ongoing investigation, health officials and the CDC ask the public to refrain from using e0-cigarettes. Also, those who use the product should monitor their health for the signs and symptoms of the lung disease.