A festival-goer’s lungs collapsed and led to a potentially fatal build-up of air in his chest after he took MDMA.
The 18-year-old, whose name has been kept anonymous, was admitted to hospital after swallowing a ‘few tablets’ of ecstasy.
Doctors at Burton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust kept him in overnight – but by the morning he complained of a pain in his neck.
Tests showed it was caused by MDMA, which caused his lungs to collapse and led to a build-up of air in his chest – which can prove deadly.
Doctors at the Staffordshire-based trust have gone public with the case to raise awareness of the potential side effect of the drug.
It has been linked to heart problems – but collapsed lungs should be considered as a much rarer side effect, the medics have now said.
The 18-year-old, whose name has been kept anonymous, was admitted to hospital after swallowing a ‘few tablets’ of ecstasy
The scan also picked up bilateral pneumothorax, or two collapsed lungs – which is a known possible cause of pneumomediastinum, or air in the centre of the chest
The medical team, led by Dr Nonyelum Obiechina, published the bizarre tale in the reknowned BMJ Case Reports.
MDMA has been used by clubbers for decades – but deaths from the class A drug have soared by eight-fold since 2010.
Campaigners warn the biggest risk of taking it revolves around the fact that many users are unaware of the true contents.
But experts have today told MailOnline that it is unlikely ecstasy, chemically known as MDMA, would have caused the teenager’s shave with death.
Ian Hamilton, a drug researcher at York University, said: ‘MDMA is known for a lot of things, but it’s not known for causing lungs to collapse.
Tests showed it was caused by MDMA, which triggered his lungs to collapse and led to a build-up of air in his chest – which can prove deadly (pictured: CT scans show his collapsed lungs and trapped air under the skin, or subcutaneous emphysema)
WHAT IS MDMA?
Ecstasy, known chemically as MDMA or molly, has been used by clubbers for decades due to its effects in helping keep people awake.
It can come in the form of various pills and often takes about 30 minutes for its long-lasting effects to kick in, which can include feelings of love.
In the UK, possession of any form of ecstasy – considered a Class A drug – comes with a potential jail term of up to seven years. In the US, the jail term can be as severe as 40 years in some states.
Drug campaigners warn the biggest of taking MDMA revolves around the fact that many users are unaware of what is in the substance they are taking.
It can include other drugs, such as PMA, which can be fatal in lower doses than MDMA itself.
The Office for National Statistics recorded an eight fold increase in ecstasy deaths last year compared to 5 years ago.
The statistics showed that 63 people died from taking MDMA in 2016 – significantly higher than that of the record low in 2010 of eight deaths.
‘My suspicion would be that there is something else, another drug, or the MDMA had been cut with something else that’s caused that [the symptoms].’
The teenager was admitted to hospital after ingesting a few tablets at the festival, which hasn’t been named. It is unsure if he overdosed.
He denied having taken any other drugs or alcohol and was kept in overnight at the hospital in Staffordshire for examinations.
Medical tests found no warning signs of any disease – but they did notice elevated levels of creatine – often a sign of kidney disease.
The teenager admitted the next day that there was a pain in his neck, as doctors became concerned over ‘redness’ on his face and neck.
He was then sent for a chest X-ray when the doctors heard a mysterious crackling sound, known as a crepitus, upon closer inspection.
It showed pneumomediastinum – or air in the center of the chest. It can be caused by the inhalation of drugs, such as crack cocaine, or injuries.
However, medical literature has yet to establish a link between the condition and other drugs, such as MDMA. It is unsure if this is the first case.
The scan also picked up bilateral pneumothorax, or two collapsed lungs – which is a known possible cause of pneumomediastinum.
Further tests showed subcutaneous emphysema – air in tissues that can cause a crackling sound – in the patient’s neck, chest and upper abdominal walls.
He was managed on the hospital’s respiratory ward – but did not require a chest drain, which is sometimes used to treat collapsed lungs.
Doctors then discharged the teenagers days later after medical tests showed the build-up of air had resolved.
They wrote: ‘These patients do need to be kept under close observation as pneumomediastinum can be fatal.’