9 Side Effects from Vaping and How to Handle Them

Vaping360 Team
December 19, 2018

Although vapes are not medical devices, side effects for the user may occur. These side effects are not a given though. Because of the many variables in devices and e-liquid on the market, as well as the differences in frequency and method someone vapes, the side effects are often situational instead of universal.

Disclaimer: Medical studies and official surveys to reference for vaping side effects are sorely lacking, with most focusing on overall health and vaping. To compensate for that, Google keywords and search traffic data were used to see what side effects were most searched for. Social media posts and threads were also referenced—such as vape forums’ health-related topics.

Dry mouth

One of the most common side effects of vaping. Dry mouth is most associated with the base ingredients of e-liquid: PG and VG (propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin). Although higher percentages of PG are often reported to have a more drying effect on the mouth, it’s not uncommon for 100% VG vapers to still experience it. The reasons behind this seem counterintuitive. PG and VG are both humectants, which is why they’re used in consumable products to keep things moist; but they’re also hygroscopic, meaning they absorb water.

If you’re experiencing general dry mouth, you can use an oral hydration rinse like Biotene, which ironically has both PG and VG as ingredients, or you can simply drink more water. Those two remedies are usually the simplest way to get moisture back in your mouth. If you have a persistently parched mouth, consult with your oral health provider. Chronic dry mouth can be a symptom of dehydration and can cause serious oral health complications if left untreated.

Sore throat

A sore or scratchy throat may be caused by a number of things: nicotine, propylene glycol, flavorings, or even the coil used in the atomizer. Some coils used in vaping are nickel-based, and it’s not uncommon for users to discover they have an allergy to nickel. Also, several reports online can be found associating a sore throat with high nicotine, especially when used with high levels of propylene glycol (50% or more).

If you think these issues are related to the e-liquid, try a higher percentage of VG, a new flavor—like a mentholated juice—or lower the nicotine concentration. If you’re certain it’s not the liquid or the nicotine, it may be the vaping wire type used in your vape coil. Check the specs of the device and see if it has a nickel coil or a coil with nickel content such as nichrome (often listed as Ni80). If the specific coil metal isn’t available, replace it with a one that clearly states it uses Kanthal or stainless steel—stainless steel might also contain nickel but usually only up to 10%. If that doesn’t seem to clear up the sore throat, make an appointment with your physician.

Coughing

Problems with coughing while vaping frequently appear in complaints from beginner vapers, even when they’re ex-smokers or even current smokers. Generally speaking, coughing is a result of the wrong approach to vaping and inhaling. Like the result of high nicotine being used with a direct-lung inhale or trying to take a cigarette-type draw on a device with too much airflow.

If you are coughing when you take a hit, check the airflow of the device without activating it (if your device has an automatic draw, take out the cartridge or vape pod and draw on it while not attached to the battery). If it feels tight like a coffee straw, it’s meant for a cigarette type of draw called mouth-to-lung. If it feels like your sucking air through a milkshake straw, it’s a direct-lung device, which requires inhaling it directly to the lungs and immediately blowing it out. Direct lung devices are strongly recommended to use with nicotine at 6 mg/mL or lower.

Headaches

If you’ve recently quit smoking, it’s not uncommon for headaches to occur. Although you can still get nicotine from vapes, nicotine is not the only alkaloid found in tobacco. Alkaloids have a physiological effect on the user, and cessation from habitual usage may cause headaches. Nicotine is the major alkaloid in tobacco, accounting for about 95% of the alkaloid content, but there are other tobacco minor alkaloids in tobacco smoke, not present in e-liquid. These tobacco minor alkaloids work in concert with nicotine and are believed to increase potential dependency. If you’ve recently quit smoking and are vaping with nicotine, it’s possible that nicotine alone may not be enough to ward off the headaches in the beginning, and you may be withdrawing from other chemicals and alkaloids found in tobacco.

If you’re experiencing headaches and it’s not from quitting smoking, it’s possible that you’re dehydrated. Headaches are a common symptom of dehydration. If you’ve noticed persistent dry mouth in conjunction with your headaches, a remedy could simply be to drink more water. But if that doesn’t work, you should consult a medical professional.

Dizziness or headrush

Similar to the feeling of smoking for the first time, it’s not uncommon to experience lightheadedness and dizziness from vaping. Also similar to smoking, this typically will stop presenting itself the more you consume. This feeling is not from vaping in general though; it’s from vaping nicotine – particularly with high nicotine.

If you’re concerned about dizziness or the feeling of being lightheaded, the best course of action is to lower your nicotine or the amount you vape in short periods. If you’d prefer to not lower your consumption, it’s something that will likely go away as your body gets accustomed to nicotine.

Weight loss/gain

There’s no evidence that vaping will aid in weight loss or cause weight gain, even if nicotine is used. Although nicotine is considered by many to be an appetite suppressant, especially in the context of smoking, there’s not much conclusive evidence that proves its efficacy at losing weight. That said, nicotine is a stimulant, and other similar stimulants (like caffeine) are associated with fat burning by increasing metabolic rate. But fat burning and weight loss are not the same.

That’s not to say it’s impossible for weight loss to occur from vaping, but it’s definitely not a real side effect. If by chance someone does experience weight loss with vaping, a simpler explanation is that vaping is an oral fixation without calories. Many vapers find vaping sweet flavors decreases their need to eat sweets. On the flipside, if you quit vaping, there’s a chance that the absence of the hand-to-mouth action may end up getting replaced with calories that could lead to weight gain.

Nausea

If you’re feeling nauseous from vaping, it could be due to nicotine. Similar to the side effects from over-the-counter nicotine replacement therapies like gums and patches, the feeling of an upset stomach has been noted as a common side effect of nicotine consumption. Smokers often report the same when they began smoking.

If you’ve noticed that nauseous feelings aren’t connected with nicotine usage, chances are it’s a reaction to the specific e-juice you’re using. A simple remedy is to cut back on your consumption or to remove the likely culprit. But like the feelings of lightheadedness and dizziness from vaping nicotine, gastro issues often resolve themselves if you give it a little time. However, if those issues do not go away or it’s causing you real distress, it’s best to seek medical advice.

Tired and fatigued

Nicotine is a stimulant that paradoxically can increase mental alertness and have a sedative effect. For some users, it’s more of one than the other. It’s conceivable that if you’re tired or fatigued from vaping, it could be similar to a caffeine crash. If you find yourself getting sleepy, try lowering or increasing your nicotine strength, or even eliminating it all together. The point is, what you’re currently using is disagreeing with you. Change it up.

Chest pain from vaping

There could be various reasons for chest pain from vaping. Excessive heat, high nicotine, or maybe even the specific flavorings in a particular e-liquid could be the cause. Some users on vaping forums have stated that (fiery) cinnamon liquids containing the flavoring chemical cinnamaldehyde give them chest pain. Whatever the cause, chest pain is not an insignificant matter and could be a sign of a more serious health issue. If you’re experiencing chest pain and it appears to be a result of what you’re vaping, lower the power of your device, reduce your nicotine, change your atomizer or coil, or change your flavor. Essentially, try and change your entire set up if you have to! If that doesn’t clear it up, make an appointment with your doctor.

Vaping side effects in perspective

A lot of the perceived side effects from vaping are actually side effects from nicotine usage. And many of the above examples are shared with FDA-approved forms of nicotine replacement therapies. That said, a few of these side effects are particular to vaping itself. The key to remember is that vapes are not meant to be health products. They are, however, a much safer alternative when vaping is compared to smoking. If you are one of the millions that use vaping as an alternative to smoking, the mild side effects of vaping should be viewed in comparisons to the absolute hazards of smoking cigarettes.

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Phyllis MorgartJeremy MannsabzAlvaroJim McDonald Recent comment authors
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Gwen fox
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Gwen fox

I’ve been vaping for ten weeks now. I’ve had all the side effects l don’t want a fag. My dad just recently died from smoking cigarettes. It’s been six months and l really need to stop for good! I’m only 45. Plenty of years in front of me. Thank god and chemistry class for coming to this vaping. l think will save my life, so thanks for the info. Before my dad passed he wanted to know if it was safe for me as well as him to vape. God bless and keep on doing the work. God bless you… Read more »

John
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John

I’ve been a smoker for nearly 30 years and just started vaping 3 weeks ago. I’ve not had a cigarette in 11 days and 14 hours and feel pretty proud of myself, ha! However, I’m now almost constantly dizzy. Even just moving my head slightly makes me feel dizzy. It doesn’t stop me working, driving etc but it’s always there, kind of in the background. Having read this article I’m going to change my e-liquid, perhaps to a lower dose of nicotine or no nicotine at all. I’ll let you know if makes a difference. The last thing I want… Read more »

Jeremy Mann
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Jeremy Mann

Hey John,

Can you offer a little more insight into what you’re using? Device and eliquid strength.

John
Guest
John

Hi Jeremy,

Thanks for your reply. I’m using a Zeltu X which is a pod-based device. The pods are 1.2 ohms. The text on the liquid pack says as follows:

NIC Salt 20mg
50 VG / 50 PG

I used to smoke Marlboro Gold (Lights), up to 15 a day, so I’m guessing that I’m taking on more nicotine now than I used to?

Eddie
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Eddie

Hey John, I’m about 95% sure that the issue you’re dealing with is stemming from the type of device and the nicotine type that is commonly used in pod systems. Nicotine salts are specifically designed to produce a less harsh vapor in much higher concentrations. Salts normally contain roughly 50mg of nicotine where traditional eliquids come in 0-24mg ranges with the lowest producing much more flavorful and smooth vapors. I’ve been vaping a little over 3 years having smoked my last combustible cigarette on Jan 14th 2016 and weaned myself off of nicotine containing liquids after 6 months using a… Read more »

Talib
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Talib

Great news on your negative COPD results, definitely something to be thankful for. I’m using a Juul device at 5% nicotine in the .7ml pod I’m not sure how that compares to other liquids. I think it’s on the lower spectrum. As of now I feel better than smoking my pack a day of American Spirits and definately smells a lot better, another thing to be thankful for. I really think you should try to help your step daughters father. You where blessed with the ability and experience of quitting. I can’t imagine how bad I used to smell.

Jeremy Mann
Staff
Jeremy Mann

Okay, John…

I definitely recommend stepping down your nicotine level, as you are already considering.

Craig
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Craig

I have been vaping for about four weeks and I seem to be getting little cold sores, I am vaping 70vg30pg

Spyros Papamichail
Staff
Spyros Papamichail

Hi Craig,
I suggest seeing a doctor about that. That said, and without trying to give medical advice, research has shown that smoking cessation may lead to the appearance of oral ulcers (canker sores).
I personally experienced a couple of annoying sores when I quit, but they went away eventually.

Ryan
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Ryan

When i finish vaping i get a ticklish feeling in my chest.

Matthew Duncan
Guest
Matthew Duncan

Hello,

I’m a moderate smoker (6-10 cigarettes/day for approx 15 years) who is trying to switch to vaping.

Im currently using a Sourin Drop with 50 mg nicotine salts. I get nausea/sour stomach after 3-4 smallish hits within a couple minutes. It almost feels like the vapor is going partially into my stomach rather than into my lungs. I never experience the same kind of nausea when smoking.

Any thoughts or similar experiences? Thanks.

Alvaro
Guest
Alvaro

Its Simply To Much!!! Try to Get around to 10 mg Nicotine Salt or Normal Nicotine.
Get The Nicotine around That Quantity.50 Mg Salt is Like 3 times more than a Cigarette.

Matthew Duncan
Guest
Matthew Duncan

Thank you both for the fast, informative responses. I choose the Drop based on a rec and because it is pretty low profile. The Geekvape Frenzy looks like a pretty good option. Any recommendations on e-juice brands?

And, yes, agreed with both that in the long term, smoking is going to leave me in much worse shape. Just trying to find an alternative that doesn’t make me feel borderline throw-up-y when I use it, b/c then I just go buy a pack of cigarettes.

Thanks again!

Jeremy Mann
Staff
Jeremy Mann

Check our best nic salt guide. I’m a fan of Dinner Lady and Naked100 nic salts. Also, it might be wise to try a lower strength, like 36 mg/mL.

Mike Camp
Guest
Mike Camp

I had a similar situation with nicsalt it turns out that I was some how getting sick from the salt nic juice I was using. I changed back to regular juice and went back to a box mod device and my problems went away. Could be that. I use a Geek Vape Aegis legend with a Hellvape RebirthRTA. I’m sure you could find a box mod that is suitable for your taste and and different juice. I would do that before I went back to smoking cigarettes..

Jeremy Mann
Staff
Jeremy Mann

It’s possible that you are getting the liquid into your digestive tract and it’s causing an upset stomach. I’d recommend finding another device. Because although that is no fun what you’re experiencing, the alternative — cigarettes — is almost certainly guaranteed to cause you much more hazard than that. I don’t know if it’s in your budget, but the Geekvape Frenzy is a good device that doesn’t cause any spitback. And honestly, the Suorin Drop has declined a lot in performance since it first came out.

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