AUSTIN, Texas -- An Austin-area man spent nearly a week in the hospital for an illness doctors say he got from vaping.

  • Started vaporizing earlier this year
  • Diagnosed with Lipoid Pneumonia
  • Spent 3 days in ICU

The man spent around three days in the intensive care unit. The man, who wishes to remain anonymous, had been smoking marijuana flower for 10 years and had only started vaping earlier this year. He said it didn't take long for him to notice symptoms.

"It was probably within the first month or two my cough started to have a bit of a wheeze to it. I just kind of figured you know, I'm vaping a lot more. I didn't think it would actually be something serious in my lungs,” he said.

At first, the man and his doctors thought it was a stomach virus. He was given fluids and medication and sent back home. When the symptoms continued, he revisited the hospital where doctors discovered his illness was much worse.

"When they checked my O2 they said it was like in the 80s. As soon as I go to the ER they take the X-ray and they’re like, ‘Oh you need to go straight into the ICU,’" he said.

The man was diagnosed with Lipoid Pneumonia. He became one of 380 cases of vape-related illness reported to the Center for Disease Control CDC. So far, the CDC says seven people have died because of these diseases. Doctors are still looking for what causes these illnesses in vape products. Pulmonary Physician Dr. Shenil Shah said some doctors believe it could have something to do with the chemicals in the product.

"Vegetable glycerin, propylene glycol, the flavoring. A lot of these chemicals are different in vapes versus cigarettes and these chemicals have actually been shown to affect lung function," Dr. Shah said.

Since vaping is still relatively new, not much research has been done on the products and their effect on consumers. Dr. Shah said patients being too embarrassed to admit use of vape products, especially those bought and used illegally, could be part of the reason researching the product has been difficult. 

"Your conversation with your physician is confidential, this is not going to get out there. It's something that is in the patient’s best interest to bring this up so that the doctors have a red flag for them to say, 'Hey, you know what? This is something that needs to be addressed,'" said Dr. Shah.