A young woman was recently admitted to the medical centre at Pittsburgh University for severe respiratory distress. Aged 18, the patient was quitting cigarettes and had switched to a vape pen 3 weeks earlier. She was complaining of a nasty cough, respiratory difficulties, and chest pain.
After being admitted to the hospital, her symptoms only got worse. She was as a result placed under respiratory assistance. Her lungs were tubed to drain the liquid that had accumulated within, a dangerous issue known as pulmonary oedema. Medical staff concluded with an alarming diagnosis, hypersensitivity pneumonitis and claimed the cause was e-cig vapour.
A study performed by doctors
Following this dramatic episode, doctors prepared a case study. They concluded that adolescents who used e-cigarettes risked hypersensitivity pneumonitis, a potentially life-threatening issue. The group encouraged paediatricians to discuss the potential harm that electronic cigarettes could cause to their patients.
This study was picked up by many American media outlets including CNN and CBS. The young paediatrician who oversaw the young patient, Casey Sommerfeld, was quoted at length. The doctor claimed that chemicals in e-cigarettes caused inflammation of the lung, and an immune response. This reaction in turn caused “extensive inflammation of blood vessels” and “the accumulation of liquid in the lungs”.
However, according to Doctor Konstantinos Farsalinos, the diagnosis was completely false. He claimed that a hypersensitivity pneumonitis was highly improbable in these circumstances. In his opinion, the issues the young lady suffered were most likely caused by antigens in airborn microbes (hay, bird droppings, mould…).