Many smokers consider electronic cigarettes (vaping) to be a safer alternative to traditional cigarettes. In some respect they are correct. However, a newly described condition: constrictive bronchiolitis is appearing in some people who vape.
Bronchioles are the smaller arborations in the “bronchial tree”. The trachea branches into bronchi which in turn branch into bronchioles. The people who develop this condition have significant narrowing of these smaller airways that is caused by tissue thickening called fibrosis.
The pathophysiology of this condition is different than asthma or COPD. Basically, the scarred and narrowed airways restrict adequate air flow to the alveoli (air sacs) where oxygen exchange occurs. This causes the resultant symptoms of dry cough, shortness of breath, and chest pain. The condition has been seen as quickly as after two to three years of electronic cigarette use and unfortunately there is no known treatment.