Woman's battle with 'deadly' illness after vaping for less than a year

An emotional Lucy was forced to wear an 'air filter' mask for a CT scan to check if she's 'dying'.

A 35-year-old woman has made an emotional plea for people to stop vaping after she was diagnosed with an e-cigarette induced illness.

The woman documented her struggles with her new “permanent” health problems in a TikTok video that has since gone viral, attracting millions of views and hundreds of comments from stunned vape users.

“Hi I’m Lucy and I got pneumonitis from vaping,” she writes on the clip. “I quit vaping three years ago but I still haven’t recovered.”

Lucy wearing an air filter mask after her vaping led to a pneumonitis diagnosis.
Lucy, from the US, has warned others about vaping after being diagnosed with pneumonitis. Source: TikTok/@ilovelucypt

Lucy, who appears to live in the US, can be seen in the footage entering a medical facility while wearing what she says is an “air filter mask”. “I have permanent lung damage from vaping,” she revealed, before adding that she was on her way to “a radiology appointment to do a high resolution CT scan to check for hypersensitivity.”

The 35-year-old said she vaped for less than a year and consumed “reputable brands” and “reputable juices”. “Hypersensitivity pneumonitis is fatal and the life expectancy is about five to seven years,” she claimed. “So here I am checking for hypersensitivity to see if I’m dying.”

The viral video ends with with Lucy crying as she stands outside the clinic following her appointment. “Now I’m having a good cry because I’m 35 years old and my life will never be the same,” she said telling viewers: “It’s not too late for you. You can quit.”

In another TikTok, she added that she now has to use a wheelchair when going long distances because she gets “so winded”, and taking deep breaths “really hurt” her lungs. “I have to wear this Elf air filter mask because if I’m exposed to any strong chemical smells or even the smell of smoke or cigarettes — not the smoke, even the smell — can agitate my lungs and cause my lung tissue to swell for weeks at a time,” she said.

Lung injury linked to vaping 'not rare'

Hypersensitivity pneumonitis is a “pattern of lung injury most commonly seen in response to exposure to dusts, moulds, birds in individuals susceptible for reasons unknown,” Matthew Peters, a professor of respiratory medicine at Macquarie University Hospital, told Yahoo News Australia on Monday.

There is no cure but it can be managed with medications and by reducing further damage to the lungs.

The “allergic lung condition” can be “deadly”, Professor Brian Oliver, who leads the Respiratory Molecular Pathogenesis Group at the University of Technology Sydney, told Yahoo News Australia, and it is not the first time it has been associated with vaping.

“Most likely the formaldehyde, which is produced in both nicotine containing and nicotine-free vapes is the antigen — the thing that the immune system recognises as being foreign — that causes the HP, but with so many chemicals produced and the wide range of flavours on the market there could be other chemicals acting as antigens too.”

Professor Oliver said Lucy's video should be taken seriously, “as severe reactions like this are not uncommon, and are life-threatening.”

A scan of the damaged lungs of a previously healthy 18-year-old female who smoked a THC vape pod every day for a year.
A lung scan showing the coarsening of interstitial markings seen in a previously healthy 18-year-old female who smoked a THC vape pod every day for a year. Source: National Library of Medicine

Professor Peters said “regular reports of diffuse lung injury” in response to vaping have been around for 10 years or so. On top of that regular reporting, there was the EVALI epidemic, he added.

The E-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injury (EVALI) epidemic occurred in 2019 and 2020, during which the number of patients with vaping-related lung injuries admitted to US hospitals rose sharply. “In the EVALI epidemic there were deaths and some patients survived with severe lung damage,” Professor Peters said. “85 per cent of cases were linked to Vitamin E/cannabis oil exposures but certainly not all.”

Over a 12-month period in the UK in 2022/23, there were 500 hospital admissions that were ‘coded’ to vaping associated acute lung injury, he explained, adding that since vaping is not often asked about, the figure could be significantly higher.

Teens targeted on TikTok

A surge in young Aussies vaping has led to the government spending $750m to combat the toxic habit. Measures include a ban on all single use and disposable vapes, a ban on the sale of vapes in convenience stores and other retail settings, targeting the black market, increasing minimum quality standards, and requiring pharmaceutical-like packaging.

New research conducted by Curtin University has found that TikTok’s policies on the promotion of vaping are being frequently violated, putting young users at risk of exposure and use.

Signage at a store selling e-cigarette products in Melbourne, Tuesday, May 2, 2023.
The Australian government is spending $750m to combat the toxic habit. Source: AAP

“Our study explored how e-cigarettes are promoted on TikTok, to assess the effectiveness of the platform’s own ‘drugs, controlled substances, alcohol and tobacco policy’,” lead researcher Professor Jonine Jancey, from the Curtin School of Population Health, said. “The sheer amount of potentially harmful content being fed to young people on TikTok shows self-regulation is failing.”

Numerous users who watched Lucy’s confronting video said it motivated them to ditch their vape. “I have never seen anything like this from vaping. I just threw mine away. I’m stopping because of this video. Thank you,” one man said.

With NCA NewsWire

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