DENVER (CBS4) – Colorado health workers are investigating four cases of sudden and severe lung illness associated with vaping. There are concerns that number could rise as the total number of people with the illness is over 450 in the United States. This week, federal officials confirmed a sixth death believed to be related to vaping.

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“The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is investigating all cases reported to us to determine if they meet the case definition being used nationally,” the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment stated Wednesday.

Children and teens vaping is considered an epidemic in Colorado. The state has the highest rates of youth usage in the nation.

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Doctors aren’t quite sure yet what exactly is making people sick but heating the oil based “vape juice” has led to respiratory problems in patients some of whom are teens.

“These life threatening illnesses as you have heard can look like infection. Kids can start coughing. They can feel bad. They can have chest pain. Some individuals have coughed up blood, though that’s not that common,” said Deterding.

Health experts are warning parents and young people that if they vape they are putting their health at risk.

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“It’s a lifetime of impact if you begin inhaling these substances early,” said Dr. Robin Deterding with Children’s Hospital Colorado. “Some (people) go to the emergency room and the most important thing we are telling people is we have to have the vaping history.”

RELATED: Kansas Confirms State’s First Death Linked To Vaping

Now that doctors have discovered that vaping is causing respiratory illnesses, they are going to go back through their past cases and see if any patients they have treated may have been sickened by vaping.

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Deterding thinks they will likely find more cases, “Though the clusters are new, I think we are going to learn that different variations and degrees of these conditions have been present before.”

Patients doctors have seen vape both nicotine and cannabis products. If you or your child vape and you have respiratory illness you should immediately see a doctor.

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