Can vaping cause pneumonia?
There have been some news stories recently about two cases where patients allegedly suffered from pneumonia as a result of vaping. But are they true? If so, was vaping really to blame? Pneumonia certainly seems like a serious problem – so if it is possible that vaping is to blame, it would be an important detail to share – so we did our best to get to the bottom of the story.
Here’s what we found.
The initial report
So far, we have heard of two supposed cases in which people were said to have gotten pneumonia as a direct result of vaping. One of the best articles covering both of these cases, that we found, was published on seattletimes.com.
In this news story, a 60 year old man and a 31 year old woman were both taken to the hospital. The man was diagnosed with hypersensitivity pneumonitis (this happened last year), and the woman with lipoid pneumonia. These cases took place in different parts of the country, and at different times – but they share common ground in that, in both cases, the doctors believed that vaping might have been to blame.
Diacetyl was mentioned in the man’s case. Here is a small excerpt from the article about it…
“Drescher and his colleague, Graham Atkins, who was also involved with the Vermont case (the woman’s case), said they believe diacetyl may have played a role in their patient’s illness.”
Here’s what doctors said about the woman’s case…
“A flavor called Hawaiian Blast made by Maryland-based MaddCatt was the likely culprit that sickened the woman in West Virginia, according to doctors at West Virginia University Health Sciences Center.”
You can read the rest of the details in the original article. Obviously, the medical professionals involved seemed to think that vaping was the culprit – but was it? Was vaping really to blame, or was it possible that there was some other cause?
The truth about these stories
We did a bit of digging to find some answers – and ended up coming across an article posted on the Ashtray Blog.
This blog post was actually written specifically about a separate case, in which a 50 year old man from Spain came down with a similar ailment – but it seems to be very similar to these two, and so the blog post was especially relevant – and it furnished quite a bit of useful information that helped to shed some light on what may actually be going on.
In the blog post, a doctor by the name of Professor Polosa, MD, PhD, the Director of the Institute for Internal Medicine and Clinical Immunology of the University of Catania, was interviewed, and he had the following to say about the alleged danger of E-cigs and pneumonia…
“After careful review of these clinical cases, I could identify a more plausible cause for these patients’ lipoid pneumonia. I do not understand why my colleagues incriminated vaping. Most probably, they (erroneously) reasoned that inhalation of vegetable glycerine in the e-liquid could have been the cause without considering that glycerin is not a lipid, but an alcohol. By definition alcohol cannot cause lipoid pneumonia.”
In general, the facts seem to suggest that vaping (at least in-general) may not have been the cause of these cases of pneumonia after all.
It is possible that those specific bottles of e-liquid contained contaminants. It is also possible that if they were hand-mixed by the users, mistakes or contamination could have taken place – and these happenings could have led to an increase in risk for some type of medical danger.
Or, it is possible that they were caused by something completely unrelated to vaping.
Obviously, it is almost impossible to tell from secondhand information – but there certainly seems to be reason not to completely blame this on vaping just yet.
E-cigs are used by millions upon millions of people every day – and to date, there have been so few of these cases that it would certainly seem like the cause might lie somewhere else.
But we will remain vigilant, and if we hear of anything else to add to this story, you can rest assured that we will do our best to report our findings as soon as possible.
Safety is absolutely the number-one concern, and we would rather everyone hear the truth… regardless of what it means for vaping.