A TEENAGE girl developed a life-threatening throat swelling condition – after vaping, experts warned.
The unnamed patient told docs it felt like she was breathing “through a straw” and she had stopped eating because she had trouble swallowing.
She had no prior asthma or respiratory illnesses, according to medics at the Children’s National Hospital in Washington DC.
Detailing her case in the journal Pediatrics, they explained that over a few weeks her condition worsened.
The girl suffered early morning voice loss and feeling as if food was lodged in her throat.
Her doctor prescribed her with an antihistamine for suspected allergies, but it didn’t ease her symptoms.
Days later, she went to an urgent care centre where she was prescribed a three-day course of anti-inflammatory medication.
She started to feel a little better, but within a few days she went back to feeling like she was breathing “through a straw”.
Eventually she ended up in A&E with acute respiratory distress and severe difficulty swallowing and given intravenous drugs.
The teen was then transferred to Children’s National Hospital for further tests.
How safe are e-cigarettes in the UK?
In the UK, e-cigarettes are tightly regulated for safety and quality.
They’re not completely risk free, but they carry a small fraction of the risk of cigarettes.
E-cigarettes do not produce tar or carbon monoxide, two of the most harmful elements in tobacco smoke.
The liquid and vapour contain some potentially harmful chemicals also found in cigarette smoke, but at much lower levels.
While nicotine is the addictive substance in cigarettes, it’s relatively harmless.
Almost all of the harm from smoking comes from the thousands of other chemicals in tobacco smoke, many of which are toxic.
Nicotine replacement therapy has been widely used for many years to help people stop smoking and is a safe treatment.
There’s no evidence so far that vaping causes harm to other people around you.
This is in contrast to secondhand smoke from smoking, which is known to be very harmful to health.
Examinations revealed her throat was swollen and her airway partially obstructed by thick dark-green mucus.
She had no history of autoimmune disorder, hadn’t travelled internationally or been exposed to animals and was up-to-date on immunisations.
Doctors started to think that she might have an underlying infection and tested her specimens for a number of respiratory pathogens, including influenza, but they came back negative.
They then tested for more atypical infections with bacteria but those were negative too, according to lead author Michael Jason Bozzella, lead author.
After a week in hospital she slowly started to improve and was discharged but ended up returning shortly after as it became excruciatingly painful to swallow.
Every throat culture and biopsy result showed no evidence of fungal, bacterial or viral infection.
But in speaking with doctors, the teen had admitted to using candy-and fruit-flavoured e-cigarettes three to five times with her friends over the two months preceding her symptoms.
The last time she vaped was two weeks before her unusual symptoms began.
According to the latest stats from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2,668 people in the US have ended up in hospital for e-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injury.
The study’s authors say the increasing use of vaping products by teenagers highlights the potential for unknown health risks to continue to grow.
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Dr Kathleen Ferrer, who works at Children’s National and the case report’s senior author, said: “This teenager’s use of e-cigarettes is the most plausible reason for this subacute epiglottitis diagnosis, a condition that can become life-threatening.
“This unusual case adds to a growing list of toxic effects attributable to vaping.
“While we normally investigate infectious triggers, we and other health care providers should also consider e-cigarettes as we evaluate oro-respiratory complaints.”