Teen Developed “Wet Lung” After Vaping

According to a case study published in the medical journal Pediatrics last Thursday, an 18-year-old developed hypersensitivity pneumonitis, also known as “wet lung”, after vaping for only three weeks.

Dr. Casey Sommerfeld, one of the patient’s doctors and the lead author of the study, attributed the diagnosis to her use of e-cigarettes saying that the nicotine, flavorings, propylene glycol, and vegetable glycerin caused an immune response in her body leading to “leaky” blood vessels. This led to fluid accumulation in the lungs. The patient was unable to get enough oxygen into her blood and required a mechanical ventilator (respirator) to breathe for her until her lungs recovered.

While the case study noted this was the first reported case of “wet lung” in a teenager that was linked to e-cigarette use, it seems very possible more cases will occur in the future. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reports that “e-cigarette use rose from 1.5% to 16% among high school students and from 0.6% to 5.3% among middle school students from 2011 to 2015.” In some places, even elementary students are vaping. Monitoring the Future, a national survey of 8th, 10th, and 12th graders that has been conducted every year since 1975, recently found that 1 out of 3 high school seniors has tried vaping in the last year, while 1 out of 6 seniors has vaped in the last month. Roughly 11% reported having vaped hash oils (marijuana).

When discussing vaping with your children and teens, consider all angles including legal responsibilities, possible health implications and the importance of making wise choices. Consider asking these questions to start a conversation:

  • Do you know about vaping? Do you have friends that vape?
  • Why, in general, do you think people like to vape? Why do some people vape nicotine free e-liquids? Do you think they have good or valid reasons for doing so?
  • Why do you think some people vape even though it is illegal? What does this say about their view of authority?
  • How can we be wise about what we put into our bodies? Discuss what this might look like when it comes to the food we eat or the amount of caffeine we consume.