A Utah teen nearly died because of a severe lung illness that doctors believe was tied to her frequent vaping. Now, she says she'll "never touch a vape again."
Maddie Nelson, 18, told local news station Fox 13 that she vaped every day for about three years, much like many other people at her high school. “I thought vaping was fine,” she said. “I used all sorts of different products, like from all sorts of vape shops across Utah County.”
In July, Nelson, who had always been healthy, started experiencing nausea, vomiting, and chest pain. On July 27, she started having severe back and kidney pain as well as a high fever. That evening, she was admitted to a local hospital in Payson, Utah, her siblings wrote on a GoFundMe page.
"It didn't take long for her symptoms to worsen," her siblings wrote. "Before we knew it she was struggling to breathe."
Nelson was then transferred to another Utah hospital, where she was rushed to the ICU. "The situation went from serious to potentially fatal," her siblings wrote. When x-rays showed that she had severe lung damage, her family elected to put her in a medically induced coma.
"They said that my chest x-rays were some of the worst that they've ever seen," Nelson told Fox 13.
After running various tests, doctors diagnosed Nelson with acute eosinophilic pneumonia, a rare lung illness. The doctors told Nelson that it “was definitely from vaping,” she recalled.
Acute eosinophilic pneumonia occurs when eosinophils, a type of white blood cell, rapidly accumulate in the lungs, according to the Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center. Symptoms include fever, cough, fatigue, difficulty breathing, muscle pain, and, chest pain. Cigarette smoking, occupational exposure to dust and smoke, and certain medications are all possible causes.
But Nelson said her doctors explained that vaping can also cause acute eosinophilic pneumonia. "When you inhale [while vaping], the moisture is creating the perfect environment for bacteria to grow inside your lungs and for infection to start," she recalled her doctors saying.
Doctors treated Nelson with a course of steroids and she immediately started to improve. She was brought out of the coma three days later, her siblings wrote.
Nelson was eventually discharged from the hospital and has spent the last few weeks recovering at home. She still needs to use an oxygen machine at night, she told Fox 13, but her siblings wrote that they're hopeful for a full recovery.
“It’s very scary because the doctors don’t know the long-term effects of this, so they don’t know what the healing process is even supposed to be like,” Nelson told the news outlet.
Nelson's story comes just after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that it's investigating over 200 reported cases of breathing problems possibly related to vaping from across the country, including one death in Illinois.
“After going through that, I would never touch a vape again,” Nelson said.
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