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Concerns that vaping-related lung illness is spreading reached Central Texas on Wednesday. On Sept. 18, the Austin Public Health began investigating a possible vaping-related illness case. The agency announced that it will confirm that the conditions of the illness qualify as a vaping-related illness in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s criteria.

The news in Austin comes two days after California officials confirmed the death of a seventh person linked to the severe vaping lung illness. The Tulare County Health and Human Services Agency in California confirmed the death on September 16, 2019.

Government Response

One day after the news that a Kansas woman became the sixth person in the United States to die from a severe pulmonary disease linked to vaping, the Trump Administration is considering banning all non-tobacco flavored vaping products from the market. 

President Trump met with Health and Human Services Secretary and the acting Food and Drug Administration Commissioner amid growing concerns about health hazards and the growing use by teens and young adults. An FDA press release announced that the agency is finalizing a compliance policy in the coming weeks. The agency will begin enforcing premarket authorizations for non-tobacco-flavored e-cigarettes. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is currently investigating more than 450 cases of life-threatening illness. While many of the hundreds of victims who have fallen ill from the disease were in their teens, 20s or 30s, the latest death was a woman over the age of 50. Doctors say she had a history of health problems. However, doctors say that the vaping illness was the cause of her rapid deterioration.

According to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, the latest victim of the vaping lung illness developed full-blown acute respiratory distress syndrome and died. Officials are warning that older people with pre-existing illnesses are likely to have worse clinical outcomes if they develop the vaping-lung illness. 

Hundreds of people across 33 states have fallen ill with a respiratory illness that doctors have linked to vaping. The CDC is now recommending that those who use these devices cease use immediately.  

Growing e-cigarette use among youth

In 2016, the FDA implemented a rule that required all electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) to file premarket tobacco product applications. According to the FDA, the marketing and sales practices of these devices lead to increased youth accessibility while the products often appealed to younger demographics.

The FDA has issued more than 8,600 warning letters and more than 1,000 civil money penalties fines to online and brick-and-mortar retail stores for selling products to minors. Many of these companies, including JUUL, marketed unauthorized modified risk tobacco products by engaging in labeling, advertising and other activities directed to youthful consumers. In fact, the FDA notes one instance where the company gave a presentation to youth at a school.

The nicotine in e-cigarettes is just as harmful as that in cigarettes. Nicotine is an addictive substance changes the makeup of the brain and leads to addiction.

What is happening to the people getting sick from vaping?

Patients have reported their symptoms developed over a few days’ time. While others have reported that symptoms appeared or worsened over several weeks. Doctors are reporting that scans of patients’ lungs are the worst they’ve ever seen. Patients have reported symptoms such as: 

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Weight loss

A Texas family is raising awareness about the dangers of vaping as their teen daughter remains on life support. The mother of 17-year-old Whitney Livingston says her daughter has pneumonia in both lungs. However, an infection does not appear to be causing the symptoms in these cases. Further, patients are not responding to antibiotic treatment alone. 

What is ARDS?

A Texas woman, who began vaping because of the taste, told news stations that doctors diagnosed her with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). This condition is a rapidly progressive disease that occurs when fluid builds up in the tiny, elastic air sacs (alveoli) in the lungs. When the lungs begin to fill up with fluid, it becomes difficult to get air into your lungs. The body becomes unable to carry out the work of breathing and will ultimately lead to respiratory failure. In severe cases, ARDS can lead to a collapsed lung.

What is the cause of the vaping-related illness?

Vaping has been heralded as a safer alternative to cigarette use. However, for years, health researchers and nonprofit organizations have raised alarm about the use of the unregulated ingredients in vaping juices. The prevailing theory is vitamin E, an oily substance that needs to heat to high temperatures to become a vapor but returns to its oily state in the lungs. However, not all cases of severe pulmonary disease are linked to vitamin E. 

Additionally, a slow process to regulate e-cigarettes and vaping devices means that customers may not be getting safe products. In fact, the FDA has pushed back its review of the vaping industry until 2022. 

The Carlson Law Firm Can Help

Whether or not a product is regulated doesn’t matter. Companies selling products in the United States have a responsibility to ensure that their products do not cause harm. If you or a loved one has suffered injury as a result of a vaping injury, contact The Carlson Law Firm. Our firm has more than 40 years of experience representing personal injury victims. Our compassionate attorneys will work hard on your behalf to protect your rights and ensure that you get justice. 

We care. We can help.

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