Two more states report severe vaping lung injury: What you should know

On August 4, state health officials in Wisconsin disclosed a dozen cases of severe lung disease that appeared to be linked to the use of vaping devices, including electronic cigarettes. The cases involved young adults, catching the attention of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which encouraged health care providers in other states to report any similar cases. In the days since this disclosure, another two states have reported serious lung conditions in people who vape.

Two more states

READ: Health officials warn 'severe lung disease' has been linked to vaping

On August 9, five days after Wisconsin made its announcement, the Illinois Department of Health issued a statement saying that six 'young people' in the state had been hospitalized due to severe breathing issues experienced after using 'vaping' products. In addition, another five similar cases are being investigated.

Yesterday, August 13, health officials in Minnesota made a similar announcement, saying that four cases of 'severe lung injury' had been identified in teenagers who had used electronic cigarettes and other vaping devices. According to officials in that state, the cases have resulted in multi-week hospitalizations following symptoms that mirror the ones reported in Wisconsin.

Serious symptoms

This 'severe lung injury,' sometimes referred to as a disease by public health officials, doesn't have a name at this time. Officials in both Minnesota and Illinois report symptoms similar to those first reported in Wisconsin, including shortness of breath, cough, fever, trouble breathing, weight loss, and fatigue. In some cases, patients had to be put on a ventilator and/or admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) for treatment.

Anyone who vapes is encouraged to seek medical treatment immediately if they begin experiencing respiratory or other unexplained health issues after vaping. Doctors are also encouraged to screen patients for vape use if they are experiencing serious unexplained issues with their lungs. The FDA has previously warned the public about the potential of developing chronic lung disease from vaping.

Possible causes

At this point in time, health officials believe the unexpected lung issues are related to the use of vaping devices. Unlike the first two advisories, health officials in Minnesota report instances of these cases linked to the use of both electronic cigarettes and devices used for vaping THC solutions. No single product or source has been linked to all of the cases at this time, however.

Officials point to numerous possible issues, including the potential of contamination in e-liquid products, as well as the potential for heavy metals to be inhaled from either the liquids or the materials used to construct cartridges and pods. Many vaping devices on the market have questionable origins and are not sold under the proper purview of the FDA.