E-cigarettes may have caused ‘popcorn lung’ in Ontario teen

Narrowly avoided a double-lung transplant

A London-area teen put on life support with a severe vaping-related illness, may be the first documented case of a different form of damage linked to e-cigarettes.

A study in the Canadian Medical Association Journal suggests he may have suffered from a condition known as ‘popcorn lung’ named for factory workers who developed lung disease after breathing in heated flavouring.

The 17-year-old, who had vaped heavily in the five months leading up to his hospitalization, used a mix of flavoured e-cigarette cartridges.

He developed a severe cough, shortness of breath and fever. He was originally diagnosed with pneumonia and sent home, only to return five days later with worsening symptoms.

At one point, he was on an evaluation list for a double-lung transplant – which wasn’t necessary in the end.

After 47 days in hospital, he returned home to continue his recovery from chronic lung damage. His airways remain severely obstructed, he has shortness of breath and doesn’t fully respond to puffers. 

In the U.S., 42 deaths and 2,172 injuries linked to vaping. In Canada, there have been eight confirmed or probable cases.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control has said vaping solutions contain a number of chemicals that could pose risks, such as ultrafine particles, diacetyl , a flavouring chemical that has been linked to lung disease, heavy metals and volatile organic compounds.

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