Vape Injuries

An epidemic of vaping injuries has gripped the United States. In approximately three months, 39 people across the U.S. have died from vape-related lung illnesses. Teenagers are suffering from seizures, strokes, and other debilitating physical injuries. One man who had completely healthy lungs in early 2019 died from severe respiratory problems in August that same year. These injured victims have one thing in common: Their injuries — or deaths — are linked to vaping.

What Is a Vape Injury?

A vape injury is any harm — including death, illnesses, or wounds — caused by e-cigarette and vape product usage.

These injuries have created a national crisis, one that has proved dangerous and even fatal for U.S. teenagers and young adults.

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the international medical journal Tobacco Control, thousands of people have been injured from using vape products.

Notable vape injuries include:

  • Death
  • Lung injuries
  • Seizures
  • Strokes
  • Battery explosion injuries

The CDC and other government agencies are currently investigating all health risks linked to vaping. If you or someone you love uses vape products, it is crucial to know the risks.

Types of Vape Injuries

As of November 2019, the CDC has noted 2,051 cases of lung injuries from vape products, and that number is growing daily. These injuries cause symptoms like chest pain, difficulty breathing, and chronic cough. But vapes can harm more than just the lungs.

Vape products contain concentrated amounts of nicotine. Many users — particularly teenagers and preteens — may not realize that vapes contain nicotine, putting them at risk for nicotine-related seizures and strokes.

In fact, according to a recent survey from the National Institute of Health (NIH), 66% of teens thought e-cigarettes contained only flavoring, and just 13% knew they contained nicotine.

In addition, vaping devices with defective batteries may overheat and explode. Data from Tobacco Control suggests that more than 2,000 people were injured from vape explosions in the U.S. from 2015 to 2017.

As these health risks continue to be studied, the amount of vaping-related deaths and injuries increases each week.

Deaths Caused by Vaping

The first known death related to vaping occurred in 2018 when the vape pen of Florida man Tallmadge D’Elia exploded and shot metal projectiles into his brain.

Battery explosions are one of several causes of death.

In August 2019, the CDC received its first report of a vape-related death due to lung illness. This news shook the country, and by November 2019, the number of deaths skyrocketed to 39.

The CDC calls vape illnesses an “outbreak” — not unlike the Big Tobacco epidemic of years past.

With these deaths emerged the chilling facts: Vape products are currently not subject to regulation by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

What’s worse, some vape companies like JUUL work alongside Big Tobacco companies, such as Altria Group, the maker of Marlboro cigarettes.

Altria invested over $12 Billion in JUUL back in December 2018.  And in September 2019, JUUL installed a new CEO: K.C. Crosthwaite, a former Altria senior executive.

Reports of vaping deaths and injuries are only increasing, and as long as e-cigarettes are sold without regulation, more and more people will suffer.

Lung Injuries Caused by Vaping

Lung injuries have killed more people than all other vape-related injuries combined.

Vape products typically use a liquid mix of nicotine, chemical flavorings, and other substances. This mix is heated into a gas and inhaled by the user.

According to the U.S. Surgeon General, chemicals such as diacetyl — a flavoring chemical linked to lung damage — and other toxins like heavy metals and ultrafine particles have been found in vape products. These materials can lead to injuries that impair lung function.

Lung-related vape injuries include:

  • Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS): According to the American Lung Association, ARDS causes the lungs to fill up with fluid. ARDS is often a complication of other lung problems and can be very serious. A Missouri man died in September 2019 after he developed ARDS. According to CNN, the man had no lung problems before he started vaping just a few months prior in May 2019.
  • Popcorn lung: Popcorn lung is a rare lung condition characterized by the scarring of lung tissue. This scarring makes it harder to breathe over time. Popcorn lung is caused by inhaling the flavoring chemical diacetyl.
  • Lipoid pneumonia: In 2019, scientists from the University of Utah noted the similarities between vape-related lung illnesses and lipoid pneumonia. Lipoid pneumonia occurs when fat molecules enter the lungs, causing inflammation, chest pain, coughing, and shortness of breath.

Other notable lung injuries include:

  • Bleeding in the lungs
  • Bronchial pneumonia
  • Collapsed lung
  • Fluid in the lungs
  • Lung failure
  • Lung infection

According to the CDC, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) was found in many of the products used in vape lung injury cases. THC is commonly found in cannabis, a drug that cannot be bought legally in most of the U.S. The CDC is currently studying the link between vape products containing THC and lung injuries.

Recent findings from the CDC suggest that vitamin E acetate may be to blame for vaping-related lung injuries. The agency sampled fluid from the lungs of 29 patients with vape-related lung problems and found the substance in every sample.

Seizures and Strokes Caused by Vaping

In April 2019, the FDA reported that vape products may increase the risk of seizures.

The agency also notes that seizures are a proven side effect of nicotine toxicity, which occurs when large amounts of nicotine are inhaled or swallowed.

Before the vaping craze, nicotine toxicity was most often reported in children who accidentally chewed on nicotine gum or patches. Yet an outbreak of seizures possibly linked to nicotine in e-cigarettes led to an FDA investigation in 2019.

Further, research presented at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference also linked e-cigarette use to a higher risk of stroke compared to non-users.

Here are some examples of people affected by vape-related seizures or strokes:

  • In 2019, a 15-year-old girl claimed she developed seizures from vaping. Her parents filed a lawsuit against JUUL Labs and tobacco company Phillip Morris. The lawsuit claims that JUUL had not properly warned consumers of the amount of nicotine in its products and that the company targeted teenagers through their marketing and flavored e-liquids.
  • In 2017, a teenager suffered a massive stroke after regularly vaping for two years. He had to spend more than 100 days in the hospital and needed three brain surgeries. As of 2019, he still suffers from partial paralysis, speech problems, and difficulty speaking.
  • In 2018, another teenager suffered a seizure that he blamed on his vape addiction, according to USA Today. During the six-minute seizure, he began foaming at the mouth, and his lips turned purple. After the seizure, he spent almost 40 days in rehabilitation for nicotine addiction.

Vape Battery Explosion Injuries

As seen in various recent news reports, defective e-cigarette batteries can overheat and explode without warning.

Vaping injuries from battery explosions include:  

  • Broken bones and teeth: In 2019, a teenager’s jaw was broken after a vape pen exploded in his mouth. The explosion knocked out several of his teeth. In a similar case from 2018, a man’s jaw broke in three places after a battery explosion. He lost almost all of his teeth, with only a few molars remaining.
  • Burns: Reports of people suffering from second- and third-degree burns from vape products have made national headlines. For example, in 2019, a man from Florida was left with large burns on his legs after a vape pen exploded in his pocket.
  • Death: In 2019, a man from Texas died after a vape battery exploded in his face, which lacerated an artery in his neck and caused him to have a stroke. He was just 24 when he died.
  • Deep cuts and bleeding: A vape explosion can send sharp metal projectiles flying, leading to severe bleeding. These explosions can even cause people to lose parts of their cheeks, as was the case with a Tennessee man in 2018.
  • Scarring: Some vape battery explosions can leave victims with permanent scars. In a 2015 lawsuit, a woman was left with gruesome scars after her vape pen exploded in her car, caught fire, and caused severe burns. She won almost $2 Million for her injuries.
  • Vision loss: In 2016, a 14-year old permanently lost vision in his left eye after a vape pen exploded and cut through his cornea. The explosion also injured his hands.

Legal Help for Vape Injuries

Today, those harmed from e-cigarettes can take legal action against vape companies.

These companies had a duty to make their products as safe as possible. Instead, they sold vape products with dangerous chemicals, concentrated forms of nicotine, and defective batteries.

These companies continue to promote their products as an alternative to cigarettes — even as more people continue to die.

Through a lawsuit, you may be able to receive compensation if you or someone you love suffered from a vape-related injury.

To learn more, get a free case review today.

Author:Vape Danger Editorial Team
Vape Danger Editorial Team

Vape Danger helps people understand the dangers of vape and e-cigarette products. Vaping devices are marketed as a safe alternative to traditional cigarettes. However, vape pens and other devices may cause serious injuries and illnesses. The Vape Danger editorial team provides the latest studies and data to help readers make informed health and legal choices.

Last modified: November 14, 2019

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