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A teenager who was hospitalised after using e-cigarettes for around 18 months says doctors have told him he has the lungs of a 70-year-old.
Eighteen-year-old Adam Hergenreder, from Illinois, is one of the hundreds of people in the US who have been struck by a mysterious lung illness, which medics believe is linked to vaping.
Speaking to CNN, Adam said: "It was scary to think about that - that little device did that to my lungs."
The teen says he's now concerned his lungs will never get back to how they were and how this might impact him in the future.
He added: "I was a varsity wrestler before this. And I might not ever be able to wrestle [again] because that's a very physical sport and my lungs might not be able to hold that exertion. It's sad."
Health authorities in the US are investigating more than 450 possible cases of the lung disease which are thought to be associated with vaping and e-cigarettes. Most of the cases are reported to involve people smoking THC.
The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration is calling the ongoing cases an 'outbreak' after six people have died.
The six deaths have been confirmed in California, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Oregon and Kansas - with cases of the illnesses being investigated up and down the US.
Adam says he started vaping 'just to fit in' and admitted to liking the taste and enjoying 'a little buzz'.
However, Adam then switched from using over-the-counter, licensed vape liquids to vaping THC or tetrahydrocannabinol, which he would purchase from a 'friend'.
Adam says after vaping these for a while he began to get shivers and eventually was 'non-stop throwing up for three days', so he decided to see a doctor.
He says at first medics didn't connect his symptoms to vaping but after a number of doctors saw him to try and get to the bottom of what was causing his illness, he was asked if he'd been using THC and vaping, to which he admitted he had been.
A CT and X-ray of Adam's stomach and lungs then revealed the extent of the damage.
Dr Stephen Amesbury, a pulmonologist and critical care physician who treated Adam, told CNN: "If his mom had not brought him to the hospital within the next two to three days, his breathing could have worsened to the point that he could have died if he didn't seek medical care.
"It was severe lung disease, especially for a young person. He was short of breath, he was breathing heavily.
"It was very concerning that he would have significant lung damage and possibly some residual changes after he heals from this."
Adam said he wants to share his story to discourage other teens from picking up vaping.
He said: "I'm getting better each day. I don't want to see anybody in my situation. I don't want to see anybody in the hospital for as long as I was."
Featured Image Credit: CNN
Topics: US News
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