MORRISTOWN, Tenn. — One East Tennessee woman is warning others about the dangers of e-cigarette usage after she said using the device made her sick for months.
Kathy Combs of Morristown picked up vaping last year.
"I was trying to stop smoking cigarettes," said Combs.
It worked for her. She doesn't smoke anymore.
She stopped vaping, too, but for a different reason.
"I don't even like to see them now, they make me sick," said Combs.
A couple of months into using her e-cigarette, Combs started getting indigestion.
"A chemical taste," she said. "And then next was the pain at the bottom of my sternum, severe pain."
Diarrhea, dehydration, and pain landed her in the emergency room with no diagnosis.
"She did a CT scan, she sent me to a urologist, a gastrologist, and a pulmonologist," said Combs.
No luck with any of their prescriptions or over the counter help.
Then, she threw out her vape.
"Next week the symptoms were even milder, and the third week no symptoms at all," said Combs.
She attributed all her sickness to her e-cigarette.
But her symptoms aren't commonly known side effects of vaping.
"Inflammation in the lungs, asthma-like symptoms, cough, chest pain," said Dr. J. Francis Turner Jr., Vice Chair of Medicine and pulmonologist at UT Medical Center.
Turner said it makes sense that Combs tasted chemicals.
"She probably does actually taste it, and then she's inhaling into her lungs, and probably coughing it out and tasting it again," said Turner.
He's seen several patients come in with breathing issues from using an e-cigarette and said people have different reactions to it.
"Some of it is dependent on the product itself," said Turner.
Products have different flavors, nicotine content and more.
Combs hopes people will think twice before vaping.
"I've never been that sick before," she said. "I don't want anyone else to have the same problem."
Not every person will experience the same effects when using an e-cigarette.
Turner said more research needs to be done to know all the ways vaping can affect different parts of the body.