Teen Shares Heartbreaking Instagram Post About the Dark Realities of Vaping
A young woman in Maryland is now fighting for her life after vaping and using Juul destroyed nearly all of her lung tissues, according to her medical tests.
Claire Chung, 19, had a consistent fever of 104 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius) in the weeks leading to the morning of Christmas Day when she finally rushed to the emergency room.
In a lengthy Instagram post that warned others to avoid “Juul, vape, e-cigarette and wax/oil cartridges,” Chung shared how she and her family had assumed that she was only having a cold or the flu, hoping over-the-counter drugs would lower her fever.
“After considerations of Malaria, autoimmune disorders, and many many other tests, a chest x-ray showed what they thought was slight pneumonia in the lower area of my left lung,” Chung recalled on December 30. “After being on two antibiotics for 48 hours, the fevers were still spiking to 104, so I went into the ER on Christmas morning. I was hospitalized and given IV fluids and antibiotics.”
Aside from the emergency room, Chung underwent other tests through the infectious disease and pulmonary departments. To her horror, a lung CT scan revealed “extremely disturbing results.”
“Healthy lungs on a scan should be black. My 19-year-old lungs were completely hazy and white in the scans, entirely covering both lungs,” Chung wrote. “I was taken by ambulance to be admitted into more intensive care. They couldn’t determine whether the scans were showing fluid, blood, bacteria, infection, etc., so they were still unable to actually treat the cause of my symptoms.”
Chung, who was admitted at Holy Cross Hospital, underwent more tests including a bronchoscopy, which finally revealed the cause of her damaged lungs. She believes she could have died if her fever hadn’t occurred during her break where she had access to healthcare.
“After conducting many more tests and a bronchoscopy, it was determined that there was no infection and that my lung tissue was just completely destroyed from using Juuls and vapes and oil cartridges,” Chung noted. “Not only is there severe damage in my lungs, but from when I started school to when I graduate, my only break was this month of December. That means if this had happened a couple of weeks earlier or a couple of weeks later, I would not have had access to healthcare and this would never have been caught. In that case, I would most likely be DEAD within the next month.”
Juul, vape (short for vaporizer) and e-cigarette devices are alternatives to traditional cigarettes. The San Francisco based company, Juul, brands its device as “unlike any [other] e-cigarette or vape” device, and boasts its mission to “improve the lives of the world’s one billion adult smokers.”
However, a new study from the University of California, San Francisco revealed that Juul delivers more nicotine per puff than traditional cigarettes and other e-cigarettes. Researchers found that rodents exposed to the device showed nicotine concentrations five to eight times higher than traditional cigarettes and other e-cigarettes.
While scientists found low levels of endotoxin — a microbial agent which also makes up the exterior cell of some bacteria such as E. coli — they discovered detectable traces of glucan in 46% of the 54 Juul pods they had experimented with.
Glucan is capable of causing airway inflammation and long-term lung damage, scientists stated.
So far, multiple school districts in California have taken legal action against Juul, including the Los Angeles Unified School District and the San Diego Unified School District, seeking compensation for financial losses due to absences related to the use of the company’s products.
In a follow-up post, Chung shared a side-by-side comparison featuring the CT scans of a healthy lung versus hers, which showed that her “bronchial tubes are EXTREMELY inflamed beyond belief.” She also detailed how her condition puzzled doctors at the hospital.
“When the pulmonologist came to me with the results, he was in complete shock. He genuinely had no reaction other than ‘wow,'” Chung recalled. “This is a lung specialist who looks at diseased scans everyday for a living telling a 19-year-old girl that he’s never seen anything like this before. Because there is no research on Juuls/carts/vapes, they could see all this damage but could not treat it.”
Chung said her doctors could not tell whether the damage in her lungs was made of blood, some kind of fluid or proliferation of bacteria or a virus. She was told that an error in treatment could have cost her life.
“I could hear the tension and apprehension in every one of my doctors voices of not knowing whether or not they could help me or if I was going to live or die,” Chung wrote. “The scariest part is that even with the extent of the damage, I never once felt any of it. I never experienced any shortness of breath, coughing, wheezing, chest pain, or ANY signs respiratory distress or issues. It is truly a SILENT killer.
Chung concluded her posts warning others to avoid her mistakes. She claimed that similar stories on the internet are real.
“Please take it from personal experience that this is NOT worth it from something as stupid as a nicotine device. The stories that you’re hearing online are REAL. Death was a VERY real possibility,” Chung noted. “I am still hospitalized on a laundry list of iv drugs and steroids, I may have permanent scarring in my lungs, and it’s all because of Juuls and carts.”
Chung said her case is now being investigated by the Department of Health. It’s unclear whether she has been released from the hospital yet.
“Just because you can’t feel it doesn’t mean it’s not happening. You don’t understand regret until your doctors are staring you in the face telling you they don’t know if they can save your life, knowing in your head that you willingly brought it upon yourself despite countless warnings to stop,” she added.