The health hazards of e-cigarettes are still being studied, but one danger seems clear: Sometimes, they explode.
That was the case for a teenage boy who was seriously injured when an e-cigarette exploded in his mouth, breaking his jaw, according to live science.
The 17-year-old arrived at the emergency room 2 hours after the explosion, according to the report, published today (June 19) in the The New England Journal of Medicine.
The patient had extensive wounds to his mouth, several missing teeth and a broken lower jaw, said Dr. Katie Russell, a pediatric trauma surgeon at the University of Utah and Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City, who treated the patient.
Doctors needed to remove several teeth from the boy’s mouth because their sockets had been destroyed, Russell told Live Science. The boy also needed a dental plate put under his lower gums to stabilize his jawbone.
But his mouth still wouldn’t close properly, and so doctors wired his jaw shut for six weeks to give it time to heal, Russell said.
“When I met this patient, I had no idea that a vape pen could do this. It takes a lot of force to break your jaw,” Russell said.
E-cigarette explosions appear to be rare, but they are very dangerous, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The exact cause of these explosions isn’t clear. In the boy’s case, the device was in good condition and hadn’t shown any problems prior to the explosion, Russell said.
Some evidence suggests that issues with the devices’ batteries may lead to explosions, the FDA says.
To help prevent these explosions, the FDA recommends that users avoid charging their e-cigarette overnight or leaving the device unattended while charging; avoid using cellphone or tablet chargers with the devices; replace vape pen batteries if they get damaged or wet; and protect the device from extreme hot or cold temperatures, such as by not leaving it in direct sunlight or in a cold or hot car for long periods.