A TEENAGE boy nearly died after vaping left him with “catastrophic” lung problems, doctors have warned.
Ewan Fisher was left needing life support after developing a cough, fever and difficulty breathing.
The 16-year-old was treated for severe respiratory failure after being admitted to A&E and Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham.
Now, doctors who treated the teenager have warned people should regard e-cigarettes as safer than tobacco “at their peril”.
Medics initially thought Ewan was suffering from severe asthma.
But he was diagnosed with hypersensitivity pneumonitis – inflamed lung tissue caused by an allergic reaction to something breathed in.
Ewan told doctors during his 35-day hospital stay that he had recently started vaping in a bid to stop smoking.
Blood tests revealed the trigger was likely to have been an immune response to a chemical found in his vaping liquids.
He has since told how the ordeal ruined his life, forced him to miss his GCSE exams and left him suffering anxiety.
Public Health England claims vaping is 95 per cent less harmful than smoking and urges smokers to switch.
But Dr Jayesh Mahendra Bhatt, who treated Ewan, said the liquids contain chemicals that are likely to cause problems not seen in tobacco smokers.
He added: “The evidence we gathered showed that it was vaping that was to blame.
“I know at least one colleague who has seen a similar case.
“There are two important lessons here.
I switched to vaping because I thought it would be healthier… In the run-up to going to hospital, I had a choking cough and I was struggling to breathe
“The first is always to consider a reaction to e-cigarettes in someone presenting with an atypical respiratory illness.
“The second is that we consider e-cigarettes as ‘much safer than tobacco’ at our peril.”
Ewan, now 19 and training to be an accountant, said he is back to 80 per cent fitness and advised others to avoid vaping.
He added: “I was vaping for about four or five months before I got ill. I’d say I was vaping about a normal amount – maybe 10 to 15 times a day.
“Beforehand, I’d been a smoker on 13 to 14 cigarettes a day, then I switched to vaping but ultimately I wanted to get off both of them.
“I switched to vaping because I thought it would be healthier and I was really into my boxing at the time so wanted to feel fit.
“In the run-up to going to hospital, I had a choking cough and I was struggling to breathe.”
Concerned, Ewan’s mum took him to the Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham.
Medics rushed him to a side ward and inserted canulas, as his condition went rapidly downhill.
“I ended up in intensive care and needed two forms of life support. I almost died,” the teen said.
“It was definitely vaping that made me ill. I had numerous tests which showed it was to blame.
“To people that already smoke, I’d say go to the doctor’s for help, don’t just switch to vaping.
In Britain, 3.6 million people vape and youth use remains low. If this was a common problem or a significant risk we would expect many more cases
Dr Nick Hopkinson, from the British Lung Foundation
“And to all the teenagers that vape and think it’s something good, it’s really not.
“I wouldn’t wish this upon anyone, it ruins you and your family, and it affects your mental health.
“I would say my health is back to 80 per cent but I still suffer from anxiety about it all.
“I missed my GCSEs, my mum had to take all the time off work, she struggled financially and she also had my younger sister to look after.”
Dr Nick Hopkinson, from the British Lung Foundation, said: “In Britain, 3.6 million people vape and youth use remains low.
“If this was a common problem or a significant risk we would expect many more cases.
“Advice remains that smoking carries a huge health risk and smokers need to quit if at all possible.”
Prof John Britton, from the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies, said: “It’s not absolutely clear what has happened here but it looks like an allergy to an inhaled substance.
“There have been a very small number of cases of this condition reported in vapers worldwide, so I think we can conclude that it happens but is thankfully very rare.
“This is worrying, and the risk needs to be acknowledged, but in absolute terms it is extremely small – and, crucially, far smaller than that of smoking.”
There are 5.9million smokers and 3.6million vapers in the UK. Up to 70,000 smokers a year are quitting thanks to vaping.
The case is reported in the journal Archives Of Disease In Childhood.