UA poison center warns of severe lung injury risk with vaping

People cautioned to avoid or minimize the use of e-cigarettes

UA poison center warns of severe lung injury risk with vaping
UA poison center cautions people to avoid or minimize the use of e-cigarettes

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Vaping-related respiratory illness and death cases are on the rise across the nation.

The Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center at the University of Arizona College of Pharmacy is cautioning individuals to avoid, or at least minimize, the use of e-cigarettes.

As of Sept. 6, more than 450 possible cases of lung illness associated with the use of e-cigarettes have been reported from 33 states and one U.S territory. Five vaping-related deaths have been confirmed.

So far this year, the Arizona Poison and Drug information center has had 20 cases of vaping exposure calls. Nine of those calls have come in the past three months. They say these calls are people experiencing bad outcomes from using an e-cigarette. There is one case of a person that may have the lung illness possibly caused by vaping. But the Poison Center has to conduct an investigation and some tests on that person.

These devices, also known as “e-cigs,” “vapes,” “e-hookahs,” “vape pens,” “mods,” “tanks,” or other names, can contain potentially harmful substances in both the active and inactive ingredients, as well as heavy metals in the physical device itself. The cause of the outbreak is unknown and is being investigated.

The two poison centers in Arizona are working with a network of organizations, including local and state health departments, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration, to investigate the cause of this outbreak and to help patients and health-care providers.

Reported signs and symptoms of suspected vaping-associated lung injury include:

  • Fever, nausea and vomiting
  • Shortness of breath, cough and chest pain
  • Progression of symptoms over several days with similarities to a viral illness
  • Vaping in the days to weeks before symptom onset

“Safety is key here. Since no definitive cause has been found, it is best to avoid e-cigarette use because there is no way to guarantee any one product or device is safe,” said Steven Dudley, PharmD, DABAT, toxicologist and managing director of the Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center.

“If clinicians treat a patient with a possible e-cigarette exposure, please call the poison center. We can assist with patient management, interviewing and reporting to health departments,” said Dudley.

The Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center can be reached at 1-800-222-1222. The center is staffed by specially trained pharmacists and physicians who are available 24/7/365 to assist the public and health-care providers throughout Arizona.

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