Teen victims becoming ill due to nicotine addiction

November 22, 2019

As e-cigarette use continues to rise in Illinois, the consequences of vape addiction are becoming increasingly apparent among adolescents.

Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) representative Melaney Arnold detailed how choosing to vape is a dangerous decision, especially considering that professionals in the medical field have yet to discover the source of vape users’ lung injuries.

“At this time health officials have not identified the cause or causes of the lung injuries, and the only commonality among all cases is that patients report the use of vaping products, including e-cigarettes. No one compound or ingredient has emerged as the cause of these illnesses to date, and it may be that there is more than one cause of this outbreak,” Arnold said.

Arnold noted that the problems surrounding vaping only worsen with time, as the number and severity of lung injuries being reported to the IDPH increase each week.

“There are currently 137 reported cases, including one death and 33 individuals needing more investigation,” Arnold said.

Kevin Clyde Tate
Arnold indicated that these statistics are alarming because they are unlike anything health officials have previously identified.

Arnold indicated that these statistics are alarming because they are unlike anything health officials have previously identified.

“This is the first time we have seen an outbreak of lung injuries associated with vaping and e-cigarette use, so we do not have data to compare,” Arnold said.

2016 DGS alumnus Dylan Sheets was a regular consumer of e-cigarette products and recently experienced a severe health scare as a result of his vaping addiction. Sheets explained the main symptom he experienced before he was admitted to the hospital.

“My lungs started to feel tight, like every breath was only at 20% capacity,” Sheets said.

Sheets then recalled his week-long hospital stay. With proper medical assistance, he attempted to treat the long-lasting lung injuries he endured as a result of his vaping habits.

“I had to undergo a procedure to check my lungs with a camera that fired a spray to coat my lungs. I was in the hospital for about a week before being released as soon as my oxygen capacity was strong enough,” Sheets said.

Although Sheets was released from the hospital, his official diagnosis has yet to be identified, and it is unlikely he will fully heal from his injuries. In his daily life, he still experiences symptoms, sometimes needing to take pauses to catch his breath.

According to Arnold, Sheets’s situation is not an isolated incident.

“More than 100 people in Illinois have been hospitalized, the majority admitted to the ICU, after vaping. Some as young as 13 years,” Arnold said.

With this in mind, there is only one infallible solution to prevent vaping dangers: choosing not to vape altogether. Arnold shared her final warning for those who disregard this solution.

“People across the country have died [from abusing e-cigarette products]. Vaping as a teen can put your health at risk long-term and [IDPH] urges people to stop vaping,” Arnold said.

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