Teen Vaping – A National Crisis Hits Home

The public health crisis of vaping-related lung injuries among teens has arrived in Madison. In the past two months, UW Health has treated at least 10 cases of lung injury in which the patient admitted to vaping or using e-cigarettes with products containing nicotine, THC or CBD (cannabidiol).

Recently several UW Health specialists, lead by pediatric pulmonologist Dr. Vivek Balasubramaniam, held a news conference at American Family Children’s Hospital to raise awareness about how the national crisis is affecting local communities.

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I Beg You, Stop Vaping.

I know that there have been quite a few blogs about vaping recently (and you may be sick of reading about this in the news), but I’m writing this as a request from several parents and patients. Even as I write this, I’m sitting in a meeting getting briefed on the most recent cases of lung injuries related to vaping.  I am receiving multiple calls and patient questions daily about this. This is an ongoing thing, and each day it gets bigger and bigger.

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Vaping suspected of causing severe lung damage

Vaping is in the news… again… (i.e. you should quit vaping, and we’re here to help!)

There are endless options for what you might want to do with the end of your summer (End? How is it August already?!), but spending several weeks in the hospital with a severe lung disease probably isn’t high on your list. For some teenagers in Wisconsin, that was, unfortunately, the case in the last month. The cause? While it hasn’t been definitively determined, the Department of Health Services (DHS) says that the commonality amongst the teens was that they had all been vaping in the time leading up to their hospitalization. As of August 2, 2019, DHS is aware of 11 confirmed cases. Seven other cases are under further investigation. Their symptoms included fevers, chest pain that worsened with breathing, nausea, diarrhea, and diminished appetite, and some of them needed to be on breathing machines while they were sick. While all of them have recovered, we don’t know what the long-term effects could be from these incidents.

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Vaping Injuries

UW Health has seen an increase in serious injuries from vaping devices. In the past year, we treated five patients, up from zero the year before. The majority of the injured were middle and high school aged teens. While fires and explosions from vaping are considered rare, these incidents can be life altering for victims. 

An e-cig device or battery can explode while it is being carried, like in a shirt or jeans pocket. When it explodes, it can start clothing on fire, which makes it difficult to remove the clothes or even put out the fire. As a result, burns occur suddenly and close to sensitive areas such as the face, hands, even the legs and genitals. Several of the patients seen at University Hospital for e-cigarette related injuries required skin grafting because the burns were severe.

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JUULing

As my daughter’s high school graduation date approaches, I have been paying a little less attention to the messages that come from the school. I can’t help it… I’m more concerned about plans for college than the business of today. I know I should be more in the moment. Is there a parent version of ‘senioritis?’ I think I have it.

Some school messages do grab my attention though. My daughter and I got a kick out of the message expressing concern about ‘grinding’ on the dance floor and how said ‘grinding’ (always in quotes) was prohibited at all future dances. Although they didn’t define ‘grinding,’ I knew what they meant.

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