Within a few weeks, her hoarseness and throat-clearing worsened with early morning voice loss and feeling as if food were lodged in her throat. She started having trouble swallowing and began to avoid food all together.
Examining her throat, pediatrician confirmed moderate swelling and a partially obstructed airway draped with thick chartreuse-colored mucus.
The teen had no history of an autoimmune disorder, no international travel and no exposure to animals. She had no fever and had received all her scheduled immunisations.
But in speaking with doctors at Children’s National Hospital in the US, 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.
“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,” says study author Michael Jason Bozzella.
“This teenager’s use of e-cigarettes is the most plausible reason for this subacute epiglottitis diagnosis, a condition that can become life-threatening,” said Kathleen Ferrer, a hospitalist at Children’s National and the case report’s senior author.
“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,” Ferrer added.
According to the researchers, every throat culture and biopsy result showed no evidence of fungal, bacterial or viral infection, acid-fast bacilli or other malignancy.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2,668 people in the US have been hospitalised for e-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injury, as of January 14, 2020.
The Children’s National case report’s authors said the increasing use of vaping products by teenagers highlights the potential for unknown health risks to continue to grow.
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