An Ohio woman is fighting for her life after smoking more than one 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 do it and thought it would be fun.
She quickly became addicted to the devices and found that she was consuming about eight cartridges of vape liquid every week — the equivalent of 50 cigarettes a day.
In October 2019, she suddenly came to the emergency room after suffering from breathing problems. Doctors couldn’t figure out what was going on and sent her to a local hospital. Within the next 24 hours she was on life support.
Chest scans showed she was suffering from acute respiratory distress syndrome – a deadly condition that occurs when a person’s lungs become so damaged that they can’t get enough oxygen to the rest of the body.
Amanda Stelzer (pictured), 34, was hospitalized after suffering life-threatening complications from acute respiratory distress syndrome
Ms. Stelzer reported smoking eight vape cartridges every week for seven years — or more than one a day.
Repeated studies have warned that vaping can cause serious damage to the lungs and heart, similar to smoking standard cigarettes.
Ms. Stelzer, a Delaware cashier, said: “I cried 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 have to sign that if I want to live – that was the consent form to be put on life support.”
She was on life support for about eight days, and doctors warned her family she could be on life support for at least three months.
Despite her serious illness, the doctors could not find out what was wrong with Mrs. Stelzer.
It wasn’t until her mother asked a nurse if this might have something to do with her vaping that doctors arranged for her chest to be scanned.
Medical staff then confirmed that her diagnosis was a direct result of her vaping.
After two more weeks in the hospital, she was discharged, but she was unable to work, see friends and family, or be around people who smoked cigarettes and vape for six months while her lungs healed.
The condition, also known as wet lungs, occurs when fluid builds up in the lungs’ elastic air sacs. FINE
Because of the liquid, air cannot fill the lungs, which means less oxygen is circulating throughout the body.
As a result, the body’s organs do not receive 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 significant financial losses and psychological problems after her time in the hospital.
She said: “I was lucky that I owned my car at the time and my insurance covered my treatment, but I still had a lot of debt.
“It was depressing. I was happy to be alive but sad that I couldn’t work and be with family and friends without a mask.
“It was awkward having to disinfect everything and asking people to stop vaping or smoking around me.
“I even lost two friends because they refused to stop.”
As a result of this experience, Amanda now suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
However, her health is “amazing” at the moment and she is in the best position she has ever been – with lots of supportive friends and family around her.
Ms. Stelzer almost died from her complications, but eventually recovered. She is now said to stay away from people who use vapes or cigarettes, as even secondhand smoke can be dangerous. She says she now suffers from PTSD and has sworn off ever using a vape in the future
She has vowed never to touch a vape again and hopes 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 wouldn’t be a big deal when I started.
“It’s dangerous and I don’t want anyone else to go through what I went through.
“People might not want to see it or hear it, but if it just helps one person quit, I’m happy.”
U.S. vape use has reached a critical point, particularly among young people, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns.
A report by the agency found that 2.6 million US teenagers vaped last year.
It is estimated that more than 8 million adults also used the devices.
Those numbers have grown rapidly in recent years as companies like Juul have become major players in the tobacco industry.