The study, by doctors at Children’s National Hospital in Washington DC, details the case of a teenage girl who suffered ‘life-threatening’ throat swelling believed to be linked to vaping.
The teen, who is unnamed, visited the doctor having experienced hoarseness in her throat and a feeling as if food was lodged in her throat.
Her doctor initially suspected that her symptoms were the result of an allergy, but when antihistamines had no effect, she was referred to hospital.
Michael Jason Bozzella, who led the study, said: “With epiglottitis – an inflammation of the flap found at the base of the tongue that prevents food from entering the trachea – our first concern is that an underlying infection is to blame.
”We tested her specimens in a number of ways for a host of respiratory pathogens, including human rhino/enterovirus, respiratory syncytial virus, influenza, Epstein-Barr virus, Streptococcus and more. All negative.
“We also looked for more atypical infections with bacteria, like Arcanobacterium, Mycoplasma and Gonorrhea. Those were all negative as well.”
The tests found no evidence of a fungal, bacterial or viral infection, leaving the doctors baffled.
However, in speaking with doctors, the teen admitted that she had used candy and fruit-flavoured e-cigarettes three to five times with her friends in the months leading up to her symptoms.
While this doesn’t necessarily prove that vaping was behind her symptoms, the researchers suggested that it was ‘plausible.’
Dr Kathleen Ferrer, senior author of the study, 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, like Streptococci, Staphylococci and Haemophilus, we and other health care providers should also consider e-cigarettes as we evaluate oro-respiratory complaints.”
The case report comes shortly after a teen in Canada developed an irreversible condition known as ‘popcorn lung’ after vaping for just five months.