What is Popcorn Lungs? and Does Vaping Cause Popcorn Lungs?
Popcorn lung is a colloquial term for the serious condition bronchiolitis obliterans, also known as obliterative bronchiolitis. The name is sometimes abbreviated as BO, and it is also known as constrictive bronchiolitis. Popcorn lung occurs when the smallest airways within the lungs (bronchioles) become scarred, reducing their capacity and efficiency. Except for a lung transplant, there is no cure for the condition.
Bronchiolitis obliterans can be caused by a number of medical and environmental factors. Inflammation and damage to the bronchioles can result from viral, bacterial, and fungal infections, as well as chemical particle inhalation.
Moreover, despite being the only true popcorn lung cure, lung transplants can cause it as well. In fact, the most common cause of chronic lung transplant rejection is bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome (BOS).
Scarring of the lung tissue blocks the airways and prevents the lungs from functioning properly in a bronchiolitis obliterans patient. The symptoms are very similar to those of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), but bronchiolitis symptoms can appear within 2-8 weeks, whereas COPD symptoms typically develop over many years, if not decades.
While almost anything is theoretically.
2. Breathing difficulty
3. decreased activity tolerance
4. Wheezing (without a cold or asthma)
Despite the fact that popcorn lung is an extremely rare disease, the early symptoms are similar to a common cold. Those symptoms worsen over the course of several weeks or months. Eventually, the disease causes a variety of severe breathing and oxygen absorption problems. Popcorn lung, if left untreated, can lead to death from respiratory failure within months or years.
Popcorn lung has no cure, but treatment can sometimes slow its progression. Popcorn lung is sometimes treated with antibiotics, immunosuppressive drugs, or corticosteroids, depending on the cause. To help manage symptoms, cough medication or oxygen may be administered. In severe cases, a lung transplant may be required.
Popcorn lung can be difficult to identify. Although CT scans and pulmonary function tests can provide useful information, the only truly reliable way to diagnose the disease is through a surgical lung biopsy. In some cases, multiple biopsy samples are required to be certain.
Why is it known as popcorn lung?
The widely publicised cases of bronchiolitis obliterans earned the disease the moniker popcorn lung. Indeed, bronchiolitis is so closely associated with popcorn factory cases that many people are unaware that popcorn lung can be caused by factors other than diacetyl.
What exactly is diacetyl?
Diacetyl is another name for 2,3-butanedione. It belongs to the diketones chemical family. Acetyl propionyl, also known as AP or 2,3-pentanedione, is another popular flavoring diketone. Acetoin, a related flavoring chemical, is a ketone (but not a diketone) with similar properties.
Is diacetyl present in vapes?
Concerns about diacetyl and vapers’ health have existed almost since the beginning of vaping, but the topic was first addressed scientifically in a 2014 paper by cardiologist Konstantinos Farsalinos and three colleagues. Their study discovered diacetyl and AP in a wide range of sweet-flavored e-liquids and labeled the diketones as “an avoidable risk.” Following the study, there was a heated debate in the vaping community, which led to many companies—but not all—reformulating their products. And not every vaper wanted them to.
There are some companies known for their diketone-free formulations for vapers concerned about diacetyl. Furthermore, diacetyl is not permitted as an ingredient in nicotine-containing e-liquid in the United Kingdom or the European Union.
Is vaping the cause of popcorn lung?
In fact, the only smokers known to have developed popcorn lung were those who worked in a popcorn factory. According to NIOSH, smokers with bronchiolitis obliterans have significantly more severe lung damage than smokers with the more common (though still devastating) smoking-caused respiratory diseases such as emphysema or chronic bronchitis.
Despite the well-known dangers of smoking, popcorn lung is not one of its consequences. Of course, smoking is linked to lung cancer, heart disease, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) due to inhalation of carcinogenic compounds, tar, and carbon monoxide. However, because vapes do not involve combustion, they do not emit tar or carbon monoxide, and in the worst-case scenario, they only contain about 1% of the diacetyl found in cigarettes.
“While almost anything is theoretically possible, there is no evidence that vaping causes popcorn lung.”