An Indiana vape addict was hospitalized after smoking more than a cartridge of e-liquid a day, causing him to cough up more than three liters of blood.
Dustin Fitzgerald of Clinton, Vermillion County, lost so much blood that doctors considered giving him a transfusion, he claims.
The 45-year-old was diagnosed with bacterial pneumonia after puffing continuously on the nicotine vapor for up to 12 hours a day for ten months.
Doctors said the oily chemicals in e-liquid caused an inflammatory response in his lungs, causing a dangerous buildup of fluid.
Like millions of Americans, Mr. Fitzgerald started vaping as a “healthy” alternative to smoking, trying to break his 60-a-day habit.
Disposable e-cigarettes like the ones in the photos gave Dustin Fitzgerald, 45, violent coughing spells that landed him in intensive care with bacterial pneumonia. The devices have long been regarded by many as a safer alternative to cigarettes, but health officials and experts warn that this is far from the truth
Mr Fitzgerald, who coughed up three liters of blood, was quarantined in intensive care because doctors feared it could be related to hepatitis or tuberculosis
But he began to cough profusely and often fell asleep because of it.
The harrowing ordeal is just the latest in a number of examples of e-cigarettes, widely believed to be a safer alternative to smoking, seriously injuring users.
In Ohio, 34-year-old Amanda Stelzer, who has been an avid user of e-cigarettes for years, was recently diagnosed with acute respiratory distress syndrome (a fatal condition) that occurs when a person’s lungs become so damaged that they rest of the body cannot adequately supply oxygen.
To kick his expensive cigarette habit, Mr. Fitzgerald bought maximum-strength vape pens in January 2022 and is said to empty an entire eight-milliliter cartridge in less than a week.
For comparison, that equates to about one and a half pods per day of Juul, one of the most popular e-cigarette brands.
But after several months, Mr. Fitzgerald began to notice a strong cough.
Over time, it became increasingly violent – and in October 2022, he visited a doctor about it.
At that time, doctors mistakenly diagnosed him with bronchitis, which also causes those symptoms.
The bloody mess coughed up by vape victim Mr Fitzgerald in hospital
But later the same day he was diagnosed with bronchitis, he started coughing up blood, so he and his wife Amy Fitzgerald, 43, rushed to the emergency department.
Mr. Fitzgerald said, “When I saw the blood, I was really shocked. I coughed up a lot, and it was just blood.
“When I got there, the doctors said I’d lost three whole pints — they were even worried I’d need a blood transfusion.”
Once in hospital, Mr Fitzgerald was quarantined in intensive care because doctors feared it could be related to hepatitis or tuberculosis, he said.
He was then put on an oxygen supply with a mask on his head – but that didn’t stop him from trying to sneak his vape in with him.
He said, “I barely got hit and then my chest felt like someone put ten elephants on it.
‘I felt like I was dying. That moment scared me more than the blood.”
Once hospitalized, he was eventually diagnosed with bacterial pneumonia, a serious lung infection in which the air sacs of the lungs become inflamed and sometimes fill with fluid, pus, and cell debris. Vaping is believed to increase the chance of becoming infected with bacterial pneumonia.
Research published in the European Respiratory Journal in 2018 showed that e-cigarette vapor helps pneumococcal bacteria adhere to cells lining the airways, increasing the risk of infection.
The effect is very similar to how cigarettes interact with the airways, poking further holes in the theory that vaping is a safer smoking alternative.
Professor Jonathan Grigg of Queen Mary University of London said when the study was released: ‘Some people may be vaping because they think it’s perfectly safe, or in an effort to stop smoking, but this study adds to growing evidence that breathing vapor has the potential to cause adverse health effects.
Other aids to stop smoking, such as patches or chewing gum, on the other hand, do not expose airway cells to high concentrations of potentially toxic substances.’
Before his shocking experience, Mr. Fitzgerald puffed on his device all day long, even at work. Many e-cigarettes on the market produce little or no odor, making them a less invasive alternative to smoking. But that also encourages users to take more hits.
He said, “But once I started coughing, I just couldn’t stop — even while trying to sleep.” When I found myself coughing up blood, I was shocked – but I still didn’t understand that it was because of vaping.
“If you ever decide to vape, do it wisely — and if you start coughing a lot, put it down and walk away.” It’s just not worth it.’