MILWAUKEE, WI — Eight teenagers were hospitalized with seriously damaged lungs in July at Children’s Hospital, and state health officials say each of the cases involves vaping.
The state is currently investigating the possible causes of these illnesses, but all patients reported vaping in the weeks and months prior to being hospitalized. “While an exact cause is unknown, the number of patients in such a short time frame is concerning,” Children’s Hospitals officials said Thursday morning. “With the increase in use of e-cigarettes and vaping, parents and teens need to be aware of the potential danger.”
Officials say the symptoms that led to hospitalization include shortness of breath, fatigue, chest pain, cough and weight loss. The severity of health condition has varied, with some patients needing assistance in order to breathe.
Officials say they believe prolonged exposure to vaping chemicals could lead to more serious health issues like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, a permanent condition which makes lungs less effective at transporting oxygen and is permanent.
In January, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services issued an advisory warning that vaping among teens has “skyrocketed” in the state.
E-cigarette use among Wisconsin high school students increased 154 percent between 2014 and 2018, according to the advisory, and one of every five high school students — or 20 percent — uses e-cigarettes. Eighty-nine percent of high-schoolers said they wouldn’t try tobacco products that weren’t flavored.
“The e-cigarette aerosol that users inhale and exhale can expose both the user and those around the user to other harmful substances including heavy metals, volatile organic compounds and ultra-fine particles that can be inhaled deep into the lungs,” health officials warned in the advisory.