Before her diagnosis, Ms Turchin worked as a personal trainer. However, her illness now makes it difficult just to walk long distances or get out of bed
A TikToker and personal trainer from California has been diagnosed with a chronic lung condition after just one year of vaping.
Lucy Turchin, 35, who goes by the username ilovelucypt and has 25,000 followers, developed pneumonitis after vaping nicotine and cannabis e-cigarettes.
The condition – which causes severe inflammation in the lung tissue – left her ‘suffocating for nine months’ and she now has to wear an N95 mask in public at all times to keep from inhaling irritants and chemicals.
Ms Turchin estimates that she has spent more than $30,000 on healthcare costs since her diagnosis. ‘It has been an absolute nightmare,’ she told DailyMail.com. ‘This is an earth-shattering diagnosis.’
After overcoming a 12-year heroin addiction, Ms Turchin began vaping most nicotine mod e-cigarettes, which are bigger and bulkier than typical vape pens.
‘I thought it was safer [than smoking cigarettes]. I thought I was doing something healthier,’ Ms Turchin said.
Ms Turchin was diagnosed with the lung condition pneumonitis after one year of vaping both THC and nicotine e-cigarettes. ‘I had this beautiful life ahead of me. And now I’m bedridden and I’m suffocating all the time,’ she said on TikTok
Within four months, she began experiencing ‘air hunger’, the strong urge to breathe or feeling of breathlessness.
This was followed by intense pain and discomfort in her throat. ‘My lungs felt like they had chemical burns in them,’ she said.
Ms Turchin gave up vaping, and within six months, her symptoms disappeared.
However, she picked the habit back up seven months after quitting, and the symptoms were worse than ever.
‘I spent the next nine months suffocating,’ she said.
Though many Americans view vapes as safe, mounting research suggest that e-cigarettes are just as dangerous as traditional tobacco.
Recent studies have suggested they leave users with the same risk of heart problems and don’t help people quit cigarettes.
Vaping has soared in popularity in the US in recent years. An estimated 8.1 million Americans now puff on the devices every week, including more than three million middle and high school children.
Ms Turchin was eventually diagnosed pneumonitis via high-resolution CT scan.
Ms Turchin is now dedicated to spreading awareness about the dangers of vaping. ‘I’m gonna survive this because I have important work to do,’ she said.
Ms Turchin told DailyMail.com that since her diagnosis, she gets pains that feel like ‘chemical burns’ in her lungs, and while some weeks are relatively normal, others leave her unable to do anything but stay in bed
Over the next year, doctors will track Lucy’s progress to see if her pneumonitis has progressed to hypersensitivity pneumonitis, a chronic form of the condition that is progressive and can cause lasting lung damage.
Pneumonitis is a type of inflammation of the lung tissue. It can be caused by certain irritants, including chemicals, allergens, bacteria, medications, molds, and cancer treatments such as radiation.
The bacteria that cause pneumonitis commonly appear in humidified, hot tubs, heating and air conditioners, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
While acute attacks last only four to six hours after a short period of intense exposure, per the American Lung Association, chronic hypersensitivity pneumonitis develops after continuous exposures to small amounts of a particular irritant.
This can happen from long-term vaping due to the vast variety of harmful irritants and flavorings in e-cigarettes.
In severe cases of pneumonitis, treatments include using corticosteroids to suppressing the immune system and reduce inflammation, as well as oxygen therapy.
Pneumonia, one of the most common manifestations of pneumonitis, kills about 50,000 Americans every year, the American Thoracic Society estimates.
Pneumonitis comes with a host of debilitating symptoms, including shortness of breath, chest pain, cough, shallow breathing, and fatigue.
Ms Turchin uses a wheelchair in public to go long distances, as well as a mask to avoid taking in irritants.
Vaping is now more common than smoking among American adults under 30, according to most recent data. Around 27 percent of US under 30s vape while only 12 percent smoke
The FDA estimates that vaping is still on the rise in middle and high school students. Four out of 10 young people admit to using vapes 20 out of 30 days every month
‘I have to be very careful about exposure to chemicals. I cannot use bleach in my house. I have to be careful about exposure to cigarette smoke vape clouds,’ Ms Turchin said.
The danger of vaping is rooted in the chemicals.
‘It’s important to recognize that oftentimes vaping isn’t much safer than smoking cigarettes. It could potentially be dangerous to the lung because you’re inhaling toxic chemicals that could be destructive to the lung,’ Dr Ever Alias, MD, said in stitch to one of Lucy’s videos.
Vaping coats the lungs with a variety of potentially harmful additives. Many e-liquid mixes include a mix of flavorings, aromatic additives, nicotine or THC. Those ingredients then get dissolved in oil.
In 2019, the CDC launched an investigation into that year’s steep rise in hospitalizations from vaping products. In February 2020, the CDC recorded more than 2800 hospitalizations and 68 deaths.
The agency identified vitamin E acetate as one of the main causes of illness in the patients who vaped.
Vitamin E is an oily chemical added to vaping liquids to dilute or thicken them. It’s typically used in THC vapes.
E-cigarettes also produce formaldehyde, which is widely used in building and construction materials.
A study from the University of North Carolina found that two of the main ingredients found in e-cigarettes, propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin, are toxic to cells.
Though her condition is incurable, Ms Turchin said that she is now dedicating to spreading awareness about the dangers of vaping.
‘I’m gonna survive this because I have important work to do,’ she said.