Mon. Apr 15th, 2024

Teen vaping addict finally quits after lung collapses twice

Health

A self-proclaimed “vaping addict” is calling for the devices to be banned after her right lung collapsed twice and she suffered permanent scars.

“You never think this type of thing will happen to you — but it happened to me. It felt like my lung was on fire,” Wisconsinite Karlee Ozkurt, 20, told SWNS.

“I fell into the trap of thinking vaping was cool,” Ozkurt confessed. “But it’s stupid. I didn’t realize until it was too late.”

Ozkurt’s plea follows a recent study that found that 11.3% of American high school students reported using e-cigarettes in the past 30 days even as health experts warn of the risk of lung injury, heart attack, respiratory distress, and other dangerous side effects.

Ozkurt, an Eau Claire medical assistant, started vaping as a high school sophomore after noticing older classmates do it.

She thought it looked cool and would be less harmful than cigarettes, but for the first month, she had to “force” herself to enjoy it when her lungs began to hurt.

“You never think this type of thing will happen to you — but it happened to me. It felt like my lung was on fire,” said Wisconsinite Karlee Ozkurt, 20. Karlee Ozkurt / SWNS

“My older friends bought me my first vape. It was extremely painful to try and inhale it,” Ozkurt admitted.

“I should’ve known from the start it wasn’t a good thing,” she added. “But I wanted to seem like a badass while doing it. I was 15, naïve and impressionable.”

Over time, Ozkurt became used to the feeling of inhaling and grew addicted to the “nicotine buzz,” particularly if she was anxious or stressed.

When the “buzz” faded, the Gen Zer leaned in harder — going through an Elf Bar disposable vape a day to chase the feeling.

Three years in, Ozkurt’s right lung collapsed in November 2021 while she was vaping in the bathroom at work.

Ozkurt’s right lung collapsed in November 2021 while she was vaping in the bathroom at work. Karlee Ozkurt / SWNS

“I suddenly felt like I’d just pulled a muscle in my back. About an hour later, I started wheezing,” Ozkurt recalled, noting that she was sent home from work but didn’t think the pain was “serious enough” to go to the emergency room.

“But after a sleepless night, I still had the same pain and I couldn’t breathe. I felt like I was dying,” she continued. “I went to the walk-in clinic and told them my symptoms — chest pain, shortness of breath, and back pain. They sent me to the emergency room straight away.”

A chest X-ray revealed that Ozkurt’s right lung had collapsed by 50%.

Doctors manually re-inflated it with a syringe, but they warned her to quit vaping if she didn’t want it to happen again.

After three months of trying to kick the habit, Ozkurt began vaping regularly again.

Doctors manually re-inflated her lung with a syringe, but they warned her to quit vaping if she didn’t want it to happen again. Karlee Ozkurt / SWNS

In November 2022, her lung collapsed again after she endured a severe chest cold for months.

She had surgery to fuse her lung to her chest wall.

“After a CT scan and operating on my lung, my doctor noticed some real scarring on the bottom of it and all along it,” Ozkurt shared. “When I was conscious, I asked him what might have caused it — and he said undoubtedly it was from vaping.”

After a year and four months of an “on-again, off-again habit,” Ozkurt put down the vape for good on Feb. 28 and hopes to never pick it up again.

Ozkurt returned to the hospital in November 2022 after her lung collapsed again. Karlee Ozkurt / SWNS

She wants more people to recognize vaping is an addiction with real withdrawal symptoms, including uncontrollable, full-body shakes and extreme irritability.

She’s on 1 milligram of Chantix, a pill that gets in the way of nicotine in the brain to stop smokers from enjoying it so much — and now she is “finally” on track to finish her first full month vape-free.

But Ozkurt is fearful of the long-term health effects of years of vaping.

“I still don’t know whether I’ve done irreparable damage because we’re unaware of the long-term effects,” she lamented. “I could die at 40 or 50 — and all because of a five-year habit I was peer-pressured into.”

Ozkurt shows the effects of her chest reinflation procedure. Karlee Ozkurt / SWNS

Now, Ozkurt is trying to peer pressure others not to vape.

“I’ve got friends a year or two younger than me. I want to say to them, don’t even start,” she said. “It’s not cool — just plain stupid.”


Filed under

addiction

e-cigarettes

emergency 

gen z

high school

research

surgery

teens

vaping

wisconsin

3/24/24



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