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Popcorn Lung


By: Melody Rabor-Dizon


You’ve heard it. You’ve read about it. You’ve seen posts regarding what’s good and not good with it, truth be told there’s no other way to it. VAPING – The dangers of vaping are surfacing everywhere. As it continues to be the focus of community health, multiple people have been hospitalized as a result of SEVERE LUNG DAMAGE FROM VAPING, developing chemical pneumonia (aka, chemical pneumonitis) as a result of using e-cigarettes. Seizures are also on the rise because of high nicotine levels associated with vaping.

A first reported death in Illinois announced by health officials couple of weeks ago, stated that an Illinois resident had died of a severe respiratory illness after vaping. A second death from Oregon also from lung complications due to the use of e-cig claimed the life of a 25 year old young healthy person. Their symptoms prior to their death were in line with those of the over 200 reported lung illnesses affecting vape users. Newest report has CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL (CDC) INVESTIGATING THESE CASES OF LUNG DISEASES. Earlier this month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) revealed they were also investigating 127 cases of seizures and other “NEUROLOGICAL SYMPTOMS” for a potential link to the e-cigarettes.

Scared you? It did me. Not that I am a user but…

What we know about vaping so far is that it can cause at least two types of pneumonia (popcorn or chemical and lipoid pneumonia) which are both fatal.


According to American Lung Association (ALA), popcorn lung (aka, bronchitis obliterans) is caused by a chemical called diacetyl. The name “popcorn lung” actually comes from diacetyl’s butter flavoring (in the past, it was used to make popcorn). But, when the chemical started to make microwave popcorn factory workers sick by breathing it in, the chemical was removed from products made by major popcorn manufacturers. In fact, diacetyl (and ultimately, popcorn lung) has been responsible for deaths as well as “hundreds of cases of bronchitis obliterans, a serious and IRREVERSIBLE LUNG DISEASE causing SCARRING OF THE TINY AIR SACS IN THE LUNGS RESULTING IN THE THICKENING AND NARROWING OF THE AIRWAYS,” as stated by ALA.

In the simplest terms, chemical pneumonia can develop after inhaling chemicals that cause your lungs to become swollen. And because vaping has been around for such a short amount of time, IT IS NOT FDA – APPROVED meaning they can put anything they want in it and however much they want to put in it and people are just inhaling that into their lungs. IMAGINE THAT!!! Doctors are puzzled and have a harder time treating or managing lung conditions as they do not know what kind of chemicals they are dealing with that is causing irritation to the lungs. Irritated lungs cause chafing to the lungs to a point where oxygen and carbon dioxide cannot do the normal process of gas exchange anymore. Lungs get damaged and scar tissues form in the lungs making it very difficult to breathe, AN IRREVERSIBLE EFFECT. Treatment methods include corticosteroids to help reduce inflammation in the lungs, immunosuppressive drugs, antibiotics, oxygen therapy and in more severe cases use of a ventilator, and a feeding tube may be needed to help manage condition. A lung transplant might be recommended in severe cases. If left untreated, respiratory failure or death can occur, per ALA.

According to the US National Library of Medicine (NLM), some of the most common dangerous inhaled substances include chlorine gas, grain and fertilizer dust, fumes from pesticides, and smoke from house fires or wildfies.

The symptoms of chemical pneumonia are similar to other forms of pneumonia: chest pain, cough, shortness of breath, and fever as well as other uncommon symptoms like fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, and diarrhea.


Lipoid pneumonia is caused when lipids (which are, essentially, fatty acids) enter the lungs, causing the lungs to become swollen— (FYI: Regular pneumonia is an infection that causes inflamed air sacs, or alveoli, in the lungs.) One, otherwise healthy patient who started vaping about 8 weeks ago was found to have vegetable glycerine in her lungs, which can be found in electronic cigarettes.

Here’s how it works, according to Andrew Freeman, MD, a pulmonologist with University of Utah Health: The oil contained within vaping cartridges is heated up to produce a vapor—and within that vapor, may be “tiny aerosolized droplets of lipids, which can be inhaled,” Dr. Freeman told the university. “When large enough amounts of lipid droplets are inhaled into the lungs, they can cause irritation and damage to the lung, leading to the condition termed lipoid pneumonia,” he added.

Treatment for lipoid pneumonia includes the use of steroids, being on oxygen potentially for several months, and taking antibiotics. But if left untreated, lipoid pneumonia can be fatal. Lipoid pneumonia seems to be one more reason that VAPING ISN’T NECESSARILY SAFER THAN SMOKING CIGARETTES. The report points out that while most people focus on dangers such as nicotine addiction when they consider the harms of e-cigarettes, it’s important to remember that these devices (and the juices used in them) can also do severe damage to your lungs, sometimes even fatally.

I really really hope that you pass this information to people you know and you love – especially our teenagers who are the easy preys for marketing strategies and who are more open minded and always willing to try new things. Let’s all be advocates for health.

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