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Doctors suspect vaping to blame after 8 teens hospitalized with severe lung damage

MILWAUKEE (July 30, 2019) – Health officials say eight Wisconsin teens were hospitalized with serious lung damage and suspect the injuries were caused by vaping.

All eight patients, who live in Milwaukee, Waukesha and Winnebago counties, tested negative for infectious diseases and reported vaping in the weeks and months prior to their hospitalization. Their symptoms, including cough, vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, shortness of breath, and fatigue, worsened over days or weeks before the patients arrived at Children’s Hospital in Milwaukee, according to a report from CNN.  Doctors say scans and X-rays showed inflammation or swelling throughout both lungs.

Seven of the teens responded to steroid treatment and were released without the need for supplemental oxygen at home. One remained hospitalized.

Since vaping is a relatively new trend, scientists do not understand all the ways vaping can harm health.

Most e-cigarettes contain nicotine, the same highly addictive chemical compound found in cigarettes and other tobacco products. Nicotine can damage the parts of the brain that control attention and learning. Additionally, there have been reports of the devices exploding and injuring users.

Nationwide, vaping among US middle and high school students has increased by 900% between 2011 and 2015, according to a report from the US Surgeon General. Though a small decline in popularity followed 2015, current use of e-cigs has increased 78% among high school students during the past year. Overall, more than 3.6 million teens across the country, including 1 in 5 high school students and 1 in 20 middle school students, use e-cigs.

With the increase in use of e-cigarettes and vaping, health officials say parents and teens need to be aware of the potential dangers, noting that e-cigarette cartridges can contain toxic chemicals that have been shown to damage lungs.

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