A 60-year-old man in Vermont was diagnosed with hypersensitivity pneumonitis last year after suffering an acute lung injury following the vaping of “red hot cinnamon” flavored e-cigarettes.
He first came to his VA hospital with weakness, chills and a cough. He was administered antibiotics and, three days later, felt “normal” when he returned home.
But a month later, the man came back to the hospital with the same symptoms, along with a fever that wasn’t present before. The doctors ordered a CT scan, which showed a lung injury that is usually associated with chemical exposure. That’s when the man admitted to using “strongly flavored e-cigarettes” just prior to both hospital visits.
“We are all very curious about this,” said Frank Drescher, the doctor at the White River Junction VA Hospital in Vermont where the man was treated. “I am certain this is an underreported diagnosis.”
The man was diagnosed with hypersensitivity pneumonitis, a severe allergic reaction that is better known as “farmers’ lung” for farmers that often suffer from these symptoms after inhaling decomposing organic compounds such as dust with fungus spores from moldy hay and bird droppings.
Three months later, after the man quit smoking e-cigarettes, tests showed normal pulmonary function.
Graham Atkins was Dr. Drescher’s colleague who assisted in the Vermont man’s case. Both believe diacetyl may have played a significant role in the man’s illness.
Diacetyl and its close cousins, 2,3 pentanedione and acetoin, have been under scrutiny in recent years because of their links to serious lung diseases such as bronchiolitis obliterans, better known as “popcorn lung” because of the popcorn flavoring factory workers that were diagnosed with the disease.