Contributed by- Dr. Snehal Singh
Have you ever heard about the condition called popcorn lungs? Do not let the amusing name confuse you as this is a serious lung disorder. What makes popcorn lungs more dangerous is it’s irreversible nature, it means that there is no available cure for this condition. Most of us are unaware about this condition and it’s causes.
One of the major culprit behind the rise in the popcorn lung cases is vaping. E-cigarettes or vaping is the new fad, the cooler way to smoke. It is also considered as a safer alternative to smoking but the truth is entirely different. Not many know about the popcorn lungs which makes it difficult to diagnose. As the symptoms can be easily confused with other lung disorders, awareness about the problem with help in dealing with it.
Let us try to understand and explore all there is about popcorn lungs.
What Is Popcorn Lungs?
Popcorn lungs is a nick name used for the medical condition known as Bronchiolitis Obliterans. A really serious lung condition that causes scarring and damage to the small airways of lungs. It causes shortness of breath, wheezing and cough. The irritation caused in the small airways also hinders with the normal breathing and hinders with the transportation of oxygen from the lungs.
Along with certain chemicals and toxic gases, certain medical conditions like viral infections, pneumonia, autoimmune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and collagen disease are also related with popcorn lungs.
Popcorn Lungs: Mystery Behind The Name
Why the name popcorn lungs? Most of you must be wondering the same thing, let us unravel the mystery and seek some truth for ourselves.
Popcorn lungs is caused due to inflammation of the bronchioles (small air sacs) in the lungs. It is believed that bronchiolitis obliterans or popcorn lungs is mainly caused due to inhalation of diacetyl which is a buttery flavoring chemical earlier used in the manufacture of microwave popcorn. The same chemical is used as a flavouring agent in e-cigarettes which is the major culprit behind the rise in the popcorn lung cases.
The Symptoms Of Popcorn Lungs
Popcorn lungs is mainly identified with symptoms of cough, wheezing and shortness of breath. An increased severity in breathing demands immediate medical attention. The common symptoms that are associated with popcorn lungs and can help identify the disorder are:
- Shortness of breath
- Weight loss
- Night Sweats
Symptoms of popcorn lung are very similar to asthma and other chronic lung conditions which makes it difficult to identify. Severe exposure to the chemical can include inflammation of the skin and mucosal surface. Awareness and promptness can help with timely diagnosis. Seeking medical help, X-ray and CT scan can help identify the problem.
Treatment For Popcorn Lungs
Popcorn lung is an irreversible condition which makes it incurable. However, symptomatic and palliative treatment with anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic medicines and steroids and help in controlling the problem and avoiding severe situations. If the problem is too serious lung transplant may also be considered. Prevention is the best way, quitting the use of e-cigarettes and limit the exposure to the chemical as much as possible.
Popcorn Lungs And Vaping
Popcorn lungs is caused due to the chemical known as diacetyl, a flavouring chemical used in microwave popcorn. The same flavouring chemical is used in e-cigarettes as well which makes vaping a major culprit behind this modern day disease.
However, some experts also claim that popcorn lung is a vaping myth. As diacetyl is used in minimum which can not lead to popcorn lungs. Nevertheless, the fact is that many e-cigs do use harmful chemicals and flavouring agents that can increase the risk of popcorn lungs is undeniable.
Health should be a priority and steps to ensure good health must be adopted. So, stop being your own enemy and quit vaping.
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