(WJHL) – Officials at Ballad Health told News Channel 11 they have had 13 cases of vaping-related illnesses reported since September.
Ballad is not the only agency to report vaping-related illnesses. Sullivan County’s Health Department has also reported two confirmed cases of vaping-related illness, and two probable cases.
On Thursday, Tennessee Department of Health officials confirmed the first reported death from vaping-related respiratory disease in the state.
Our sister station, WKRN in Nashville, reported that the Metro Public Health Department confirmed that death was that of an adult male in Nashville.
Regional medical director for the health department, Dr. Andrew Stephen May said the primary preventative technique is to not vape or smoke at all.
“If you don’t vape, don’t start, and if you do vape you really should try to refrain from vaping until we figure out really what’s going on,” Dr. May said. “It’s not worth a major hospitalization and expense and or a possible death.”
A vaping crisis is hitting our nation and doctors are still trying to find the cause.
“When we evaluate those patients, they don’t present with an infectious type of appearance on both of the chest x-ray or with their blood stains,” Dr. May said.
He described symptoms as: shortness of breath, progressive coughs and sometimes nausea and vomiting.
“We think it’s some type of overreaction in the lung to an agent, which we don’t know what it is yet, inside the vaping products that’s causing what’s called a ‘lipoid pneumonia’,” he said. “It’s the same type of pneumonia that we see when oils get into the lung, and it damages the oxygenation membrane, so you’re not able to transfer oxygen inside the lung.”
Lipoid pneumonia is a rare condition that occurs when fat particles enter the lungs. It can worsen over time and even become life threatening.
“They present with respiratory distress, low oxygen. Many of them have had to be place on ventilators for respiratory support. It does become severe and life threatening,” Dr. May said. “Theses are usually young, health people developing an acute respiratory illness that is severe enough to require admission into an intensive care unit placed on oxygen and or ventilator, and like I said some have died.”
He explained may the health department is seeing these cases mostly in younger age groups. The median age is 24.
Dr. May said, “Theses are usually young, healthy people developing an acute respiratory illness that is severe enough to require admission into an intensive care unit placed on oxygen and or ventilator,
He said no vaping device is a safe bet, whether it be e-cigarettes, vaporizors or even mods.
“We have not truly identified what that idealogic agent is inside the material,” he explained. “It’s faster to cause death than cigarrettes.”
Dr. May also said just because cigarettes seem like the safer alternative does not mean to resort to cigarette smoking because those effects cause long-term effects.
“We see longterm changes and chronic problems. With this we’re seeing acute illness in very young people, damaging the lungs and casuing respirator failure,” he said.
The FDA is still conducting tests to figure out the cause of the respiratory illness caused by vaping.
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