A Canadian teenager developed a dangerous vaping disorder unlike lung diseases seen in patients across the US Instead, it resembled the type of lung injury workers in a microwave oven factory built years ago from breathing in a buttery taste.
Doctors say the previously healthy 17-year-old was heavily sedated for months and was using some of the products he bought online through a Canadian retailer before getting sick last spring. The products come with different flavors: "green apple," "dew mountain" and "cotton candy."
The boy's family said he was deeply intoxicated when firing, and regularly added THC, the main ingredient of marijuana that gives users a high, on his devices.
"Our patients and families want the public to know that what happened to him could happen to anyone," Dr. Karen Bosma, lead author of the report and a critical care physician at the London Health Sciences Center in Ontario, Canada. He is also an associate scientist at the Lawson Health Research Institute.
Bosma and colleagues reported the boy's case Thursday to the CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).
The young man was admitted to the hospital a week after developing a cough that he could not shake, with fever and shortness of breath. His lung function deteriorated rapidly, and he ended up with temporary life support.
Let our news meet your inbox. The news and stories that matter, are delivered in the morning every day.
He narrowly avoided the need for a double lung transplant, doctors said, but appeared to be left with acute lung injury.
Bosma told NBC News that a CT scan of the young man's lungs showed damage to his airways, and that he had difficulty breathing carbon dioxide.
Despite the similarity in symptoms, young man's lung disease appears to be slightly different in more than 2,000 US cases
Many US patients have damage to small air sacs responsible for passing of oxygen and carbon dioxide in and out of the lungs.
Doctors in the Canadian case could not find the type of injury. Instead, they found something different that is commonly known as "popcorn lungs."
The word "popcorn lungs" came from a worker in a microwave poplar factory built nearly two decades ago: a condition called bronchiolitis obliterans. Many are so ill that they are referred for lung transplants.
A long investigation has revealed that the cause of the disease is inhalation of diacetyl, a buttery spice. Most major companies do not use it to make microwave popcorn.
It is unclear if the same chemical was found in the e-liquid of a Canadian boy. The products he disposes of are discarded.
During the summer, the Food and Drug Administration announced that it was considering adding diacetyl to the list of chemicals found in tobacco products that are known to be harmful. Chemical spices are approved for use in foods, but not in aerosol products.
Experts on teen addiction say e-cigarettes taste appealing to teens. The Trump administration appears to be stepping down from a proposed ban on taste, even though the FDA has the authority to move forward with such restrictions.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is set to update this week on vaping-related diseases. nationwide on Thursday.
Follow NBC HEALTH on Twitter and Facebook.