The teens were experiencing shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea and diarrhea, among other symptoms. When they underwent chest X-rays, doctors found that the teens had swollen and inflamed lungs.
“The severity of health condition has varied, with some patients needing assistance in order to breathe,” Gutzeit said. He noted that the teens are all improving, but the conditions were concerning given that vaping is so popular among young people.
Many teenagers believe that vapes are relatively harmless. However, the “e-liquids” that is being vaporized contain nicotine, chemicals and sometimes heavy metals that can be harmful. Gutzeit said it is important that teenagers and their parents understand and talk about the risks of vaping.
“It’s very important for teens and parents to understand more about vaping. Talk to each other. Understand the risks of vaping,” he said.
While teen cigarette use continues to decline, vaping is becoming more popular. Research shows that 20% of high schoolers and 5% of middle schoolers use e-cigarettes. The rate of vape use increased by more than 900% between 2011 and 2015, research has found.
Recently, the e-cigarette company Juul, which controls 70% of the U.S. market for e-cigarettes, hired a pediatrician and researcher as its executive medical officer. The company claimed that the appointment of Dr. Mark Rubinstein was a way to ensure that young people are not using vapes, but some are worried that the company has ulterior motives.
“Even if you believe in harm reduction, to go work for a tobacco company… to me goes against everything that anybody doing control should believe in,” Stanford University professor Bonnie Halpern-Felsher, who trained Rubinstein during his time at UCSF, told Kaiser Health News.