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An Ohio woman is fighting for her life after smoking more than a cartridge of e-cigarette liquid every day for seven years.
Like a growing number of young Americans, Amanda Stelzer, 34, started vaping in 2015 after seeing many of her friends doing so and thinking it would be fun.
She was quickly hooked on the devices and found herself going through around eight cartridges of vape fluid each week – the equivalent of 50 cigarettes a day.
Suddenly in October 2019, she went to urgent care after suffering from breathing problems. Doctors could not figure out what was wrong and sent her to a local hospital. Within the next 24 hours she was on life support.
Chest scans revealed she was suffering from acute respiratory distress syndrome – a deadly condition that occurs when a person’s lungs become so damaged they fail to provide the rest of the body with enough oxygen.
Amanda Stelzer (pictured), 34, was hospitalized after suffering life-threatening complications from the condition acute respiratory distress syndrome
Ms Stelzer reported smoking eight vape cartridges every week for seven years – or more than one every day.
Repeated studies have warned that vaping can cause severe damage to the lungs and heart, similar to smoking standard cigarettes.
Ms Stelzer, a cashier from Delaware, said: ‘I was crying because I was in so much pain. I was so scared.
‘The last thing I remember is someone handing me a form and basically saying I needed to sign this if I wanted to live – that was the consent form to be put on life support.’
She was on life support for about eight days, with doctors warning her family she may remain that way for at least three months.
Despite her severe illness, doctors could not figure out what was wrong with Ms Stelzer.
Not until her mother asked a nurse if this could have anything to do with her vaping prompted doctors to scan her chest.
Medical staff then confirmed that her diagnosis directly resulted from her vaping.
After two more weeks in the hospital, she was discharged, but she could not work, see friends and family or be around people using cigarettes and vaping for six months while her lungs healed.
The condition, also known as wet lung, occurs when fluid starts to build up in the elastic air sacs of the lungs. FINE
Because of the fluid, air can not fill the lungs, meaning less oxygen gets distributed across the body.
As a result, the body’s organs do not get the vital oxygen they need to function, leading to organ failure or even death.
She was recommended to use nicotine lozenges as her body was still healing and suffering from nicotine withdrawal.
The cashier suffered substantial financial losses and mental health issues after her time in the hospital.
She said: ‘I was lucky that owned my car at the time and my insurance covered my treatment, but I still got into a lot of debt.
‘It was depressing. I was happy to be alive but I was sad that I couldn’t work and I couldn’t be around family and friends without a mask.
‘It was awkward having to disinfect everything and ask people not to vape or smoke around me anymore.
‘I even lost two friends because they refused to quit.’
Amanda now sufferers from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) due to this experience.
However, her health is ‘amazing’ right now, and she is in the best position she has ever been in – with many supportive friends and family members around her.
Ms Stelzer nearly died from her complications but eventually did recover. She is now to stay away from people who use vapes or cigarettes as even the second-hand smoke can be dangerous. She says that she now suffers from PTSD and has sworn off ever using a vape in her future
She has vowed never to touch a vape again and hopes that her experience will be the wake-up call someone else needs.
Amanda said: ‘It seems harmless until it isn’t. You never know what can happen – I thought it was no big deal when I started.
‘It is dangerous and I don’t want someone else to go through what I went through.
‘People might not want to see it or hear it but if it helps just one person stop, I’ll be happy.’
Use of vapes in the US has reached a crisis point, especially among young people, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns.
A report from the agency found that 2.6million US teens vaped last year.
It’s estimated that more than 8million adults also used the devices.
These figures have rapidly risen in recent years as companies like Juul have become major players in the tobacco industry.