E-Cig Side Effects

Vaping Side Effects: What Every Vaper Needs to Know

Tom puffed on his Aspire CF Sub Ohm. Suddenly, his eyes crossed, his hair stood up on end and steam started coming out of his ears.

Side Effects E cig

But he was lucky – much worse has happened to other vapers, as shown in the following video:

Not really!

But in all seriousness, while many scientists believe that e-cigarettes are a great alternative for smokers who can’t or don’t want to quit nicotine, e-cigs are not perfect.

And when you make the switch you may experience some side effects.

Fortunately, these side effects have been well-studied, and the majority of them are mild and temporary. But it helps if you know what side effects are caused by e-cigarettes, and what to do about them.

Side Effects of Vaping: What the Research Says

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ksa4VjKE3RY

There are two main types of study that tell us about the side effects from vaping.

Firstly, when researchers survey vapers to ask about their experiences, preferences and habits, side effects are usually mentioned. Surveys led by Lynne Dawkins, Jean-Francios Etter and Konstantinos Farsalinos all fall into this category.

Not to put ourselves up there with peer-reviewed research or anything, but we’ve also conducted some surveys looking at side effects reported by vapers. You can read about these here and here.

Researchers looking at whether e-cigs help smokers quit usually also ask questions about side effects, and there have been quite a few studies on this topic.

Riccardo Polosa and colleagues have conducted many studies along these lines, with examples here, here and here, and the randomized controlled trial led by Chris Bullen found out about side effects too.

So what did they all find?

The short version is that mild side effects like throat irritation and coughing were the most common, and they usually clear up over time. One of Riccardo Polosa’s studies on whether vaping helps smokers quit concluded that:

The use of e-Cigarette substantially decreased cigarette consumption without causing significant side effects in smokers not intending to quit.

Faraslinos et al in a survey of over 19,000 users found more side effects, but also reported they were mostly temporary:

A substantial proportion reported side effects, which were generally mild and in most cases partially or completely resolved after the initial period of EC use…health benefits are substantial, especially for those who completely substitute smoking with EC use

What Users Say

We asked vapers on social media what side effects they had experienced when switching to vaping.

Some people reported only positive side effects, while other people reported a cough:

On Google Plus some waxed lyrical over positive side effects:

Positive side effects of ecigs discussed on G+.

But others complained of sensitive teeth, although this seemed to be only temporary:

g+2

On Facebook people complained of dry mouth, amongst other side effects:

Dry mouth side effect on FB.

Although some argued that e-cigs were not the cause of the problems:

Confusion over side effects of vaping v. quit smoking.

You can read more feedback here: Twitter | G+ | Facebook

Common Vaping Side Effects

Dry throat caused by ecig

From research and user reports, the most common side effects are the following:

Coughing

This is especially common when you use an e-cigarette for the first time, especially if you are vaping with a powerful device. It has also been reported as a minor side effect in several studies.

In the research cited above, about 20 to 30 % of new vapers experience coughing at first. However, researchers consistently found that the problem cleared up for most of these people.

We’ve asked about this directly in two surveys.

One found that about 57 % of vapers coughed when they first started vaping, but only 7 % still did at the time of the survey. Our other survey asked about symptoms related to PG, and found that about 22 % of vapers reported coughing.

This survey found that only about 11 % of vapers consistently had symptoms, with about 44 % no longer having issues at the time of the survey, and about 45 % only having intermittent issues.

To minimise coughing when you vape see these tips.


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Dehydration/Sore Throat/Dry Throat/Dry Nose

These are likely to be caused by the e-liquid ingredient propylene glycol. They can also be caused by nicotine.

In our survey on PG, 28 % of vapers experienced a sore or dry throat, results which are in line with published research on the topic.

PG and VG both draw in moisture from their environments, and this includes your mouth and throat when you vape. PG also contributes to “throat hit,” and if you’re sensitive to PG, this can make vaping very unpleasant.

These symptoms can also be caused by nicotine. Nicotine is the main ingredient that determines your throat hit, so if your nicotine level is too high, this could mean vaping gives you a dry throat.

However, as over 99% of vapers smoked before vaping, and are used to nicotine, it’s unlikely this is the cause.

Headaches

Headaches are another of the most common vaping side effects. Research such as Dr. Farsalinos’ large survey of consumers found that about 11 % of new vapers experience headaches.

Other studies suggest that while headaches are a problem at first, they become less common for long-term vapers. Our own survey of almost 1,000 vapers found that about 6 % experienced headaches after vaping PG-containing liquid.

Headaches could be a sign of too much nicotine, but the most likely culprit is dehydration. This is because of PG and VG’s moisture-collecting properties.

To combat this, make sure you drink plenty of water when you’re vaping.

Dizziness/Nausea

This is the last common side effect from vaping.

According to Dr. Farsalinos’ survey, about 5 % of vapers had experienced dizziness after vaping. Other studies show that as many as 15 % of vapers have dizziness and nausea in the first month of vaping, but this becomes considerably less common after people have been vaping for a while.

After six months, less than 4 % of vapers reported dizziness and nausea.

Most vaping side effects are caused by PG and VG, but this one is probably to do with nicotine.

The first sign you’ve had too much nicotine is dizziness or nausea, so if you have problems, the first thing to do is take a break from vaping. If the problem persists, you probably need to reduce your nicotine strength to avoid the problem in future.

Nicotine Overdose and Vaping: What All Vapers Need to Know

Stomach Aches

Although not highlighted by research, we know some vapers have reported stomach aches after switching to vaping.

Again, this a potential symptom of having too much nicotine, so take a break from vaping if you experience it.

This usually appears to be temporary, likely clearing up as vapers find the right nicotine strength for their needs.

Asthma

Via word of mouth we have heard that some people’s asthma has been exacerbated by vaping.

However, some vapers claim that their asthma improved or even disappeared after switching to e-cigarettes. Research by Polosa et al into asthma seems to indicate that most smokers’ asthma improves after switching to e-cigs.

Vaper’s Tongue

Some vapers have found that after vaping an e-liquid for a long time they are unable to taste that flavour.

I’ve identified 10 possible causes of vaper’s tongue, three of which could be related to vaping.

Check out The Dreaded Vaper’s Tongue: What is it, what causes it and how to cure it to learn more.


Vaper’s Tongue: Downloadable Cheat Sheet

Get our best advice in a compact, printable guide to quickly solve vaper’s tongue!

Click here to download your cheat sheet!


Quit Smoking v. Vaping Side Effects

Are you experiencing other side effects? It’s possible they might not be caused by vaping, but stopping use of tobacco cigarettes.

For example, some new vapers have complained of mouth ulcers. But this is also a common side effect of stopping smoking.

People also report cold and flu-like symptoms after quitting smoking, including coughing, sore throats and headaches.

Generally, it’s hard to say whether your symptoms are caused by vaping or by quitting smoking, but the best advice is to try to address the issue and see what happens.

For instance, if you get headaches, make sure you stay hydrated and see if the problem clears up.

If you’re feeling nauseous, stop vaping for a while or use a lower-nicotine e-juice and see if you feel better. If the problems don’t clear up and you’ve recently quit, it could be more to do with quitting smoking than starting vaping.

For more common symptoms, click here.

Propylene Glycol

Propylene glycol, which absorbs water, currently seems to be a cause of the most common side effects (dehydration, dry mouth and sore throat).

Fortunately, there’s plenty vapers can do to counter its effects.

Solutions

There are a number of things you can do:

  1. Drink plenty of water to combat dehydration and dry throat.
  2. Check with your suppliers to find out the proportion of VG/PG.  By going for a heavier VG e-liquid you should be able to reduce the side effects.
  3. Go for a VG only e-liquid.

Going for a 100% VG e-juice is not ideal, as VG heavy e-liquid can clog clearomisers, put pressure on atomisers and delivers less throat hit – but it’s got to be better than going back to smoking!

Clearomisers and tanks with large air holes such as the Aspire Atlantis Sub Ohm tank deal better with VG heavy e-liquids than regular tanks.

Our UK-made Halo e-liquid is currently transitioning from 60 % PG to 40 % VG, to 50pg-50vg, and works well in a variety of devices.

If you want a higher-VG blend, Element’s Dripper Series has a massive 80 % VG.

This should be high enough to prevent any PG-related symptoms, but since VG also absorbs moisture, it’s still important to drink plenty of water when you’re vaping.

Side Effects of Nicotine

While nicotine can have some side effects, over 99% of vapers (according to studies by Action on Smoking and Health) are former or current smokers, and well used to nicotine.

Addiction

Nicotine is well known as an addictive substance. However, electronic cigarettes deliver less nicotine than cigarettes, and other compounds that contribute to addiction in cigarettes are not present in electronic cigarettes, so it is quite possible that e-cigarettes are less addictive than tobacco cigarettes.

Recent research into dependence on electronic cigarettes provides direct evidence that they are less addictive than tobacco cigarettes.

Also see: Why Everything They Told You About Nicotine Addiction Could Be Wrong.

Blood Pressure

Nicotine can lead to a temporary increase in blood pressure. However, there is controversy on whether it does this in the long term. Indeed, some studies have shown that smoking leads to a long term fall in blood pressure, and smoking cessation to an increase, while other studies have shown the opposite.

Click here if you are interested in a deeper discussion of the evidence.

Remember, nicotine’s not all bad. For more on nicotine, including some of the most positive effects, see 10 Facts All Vapers Should Know About Nicotine.

Cancer

Contrary to popular opinion, nicotine doesn’t cause cancer – that’s caused by the inhalation of smoke.

There is some controversy on whether nicotine could speed up the development of cancer – some studies say it can, while others say it can’t.

Other Side Effects of Nicotine

Other common side effects of nicotine include:

  • Mouth Irritation
  • Burping
  • Head Pain
  • Increased Hunger (although nicotine is usually an appetite suppressor)
  • Increased Production of Saliva
  • Pain in the Jaw Area
  • Throat Pain

Nicotine Overdose

Nicotine overdoses are rare in smokers and vapers. That’s because nicotine users are known to self-titrate i.e. they take in the amount they need, and stop before taking too much.

However, if you do over-do your vaping, you could experience some of the following symptoms:

  • Dizziness
  • Fast Heartbeat
  • Nausea or Vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Stomach pains

Obviously, if you start to experience any of the above stop vaping immediately and have a lie down!

The good news is your body processes nicotine quickly, so these symptons don’t usually last long.

Unproven Side Effects of Vaping

Vaping has been linked to lipid pneumonia.

There was an isolated case in the UK where a vaper died of lipoid pneumonia, but there’s two reasons to be sceptical:

1. A single isolated case of lipoid pneumonia in a population of several million vapers (almost all of whom have been smoking for years) does not prove that vaping was the cause.

2. Scientists such as Professor Polosa have pointed out the e-liquid used by the patient was glycerine based, and that it is impossible for these to cause lipoid pneumonia.

A lipid is a fat, so you’d have to vape fats or actual oils for vaping to cause lipoid pneumonia. Needless to say: don’t do that!

Positive Side Effects of Vaping

Lung capacity.Above: Results from a survey we conducted of users, asking how switching to ecigs had affected their lungs. Click here for the full results.

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Participants experienced significant benefits in physical status and improvements in pre-existing disease conditions (including respiratory disease such as asthma and chronic obstructive lung disease). Being a former smoker was independently associated with positive effects in health and improvements in disease conditions.

Farsalinos commenting on his survey of 19,000 vapers

Of course, it’s not all negative or smokers would not have switched to electronic cigarettes in their millions! Here are some of the positive effects users have reported:

  • Overall Better Physical Health
  • Improved Breathing
  • Improved Ability to Exercise (Stamina)
  • Improved Sense of Smell
  • Improved Sense of Smell
  • Improved Sexual Performance
  • Improved Endurance
  • Improved Ability To Breathe
  • Reduced Cough
  • Improvements in Asthma & Other Diseases

Some of the reported improvements have been quantified via surveys. The following graph highlights some of the important benefits (there’s just not room to get them all in), and is extrapolated from Farsalinos’ survey.

physical conditions e cigs

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While the next graph highlights changes in disease conditions after switching to e-cigs.

disease conditions e cigs

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The results were even better for people who had switched 100% to using e-cigs.

In the following graph, you can also see there has been a substantial decrease in the number of people who had to take lung medication after switching to ecigs:

changes in medication e cigs

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For the full data, read the results of Farsalinos’ excellent survey here.

Conclusion

If you switch to electronic cigarettes, you may indeed experience some side effects. Most of the negative effects, though, are likely to be temporary and minor. And the scientists who are conducting research into e-cigarettes believe that they are likely to be far outweighed by the positive benefits of switching from smoking to vaping.

Leave a comment:

16 thoughts on “Vaping Side Effects: What Every Vaper Needs to Know

  1. For me it was true about the lessening of asthma to the point where I have one blue inhaler a year compared to having three inhalers a month and a daily regime of puffs.

    The dry mouth does seem to continue, ejuice is a humectant but I would say its a good idea to use it as an excuse to drink more fluids especially for those in cessation of tobacco as it means all them lodged and built up nasties will filter through a lot quicker.

    Do remember that nicotine is a death knell for vitamin C, even in vaping form, if you drank a pint of orange juice and then vaped, most of the C would be wiped out by the nicotine so try and have some before you get going in the morning and before you go to bed after a good time allowing the nicotine to be absorbed and not destructive to the vitamin.

    Also beware some juices and their colourings and ingredients, not all juices are equal and there is still some not so nice items out there and the creeping in of aspartame into juices for sweetening is quite worrying as studies show it can cause cancers and tumours, I quite enjoy mixing my own ejuices using natural flavourings and malt extract based sweeteners and have made my own blackjack, spearmint and coconut cream flavours which taste how I want them 🙂

    Above all folks, have fun with it, try new things that you would never get with a ciggy, I have been going now in my third year and never looked back once, I have money to spend, my sense of smell came back, my sense of taste has allowed me to cook exotic dishes once again that I could appreciate, no more falling asleep with a fag in me hand or standing in the rain outside the pub like a melon, my youngest daughter is an avid vaper like myself and she loves all the funky batteries and atty’s for the girls and more and more of her friends are giving up the burnies for the leccies too.

  2. I travelled to Norwich one evening. 2.5 hrs in car. E cig in my hand all of the journey. On the way back i began to feel dizzy at the wheel. It was that bad I had to pull over. Then stomach began twitching and i was sick. I was that dizzy I was unable to drive for 20 minutes. Then it seemed to clear and i carried on driving home. Horrible experience. Have made appointment to see doctor.

  3. I was a smoker for 40 years and decided to quit. I have chosen to vape as it is the comfort of the inhale/exhale that ai tend to miss when I have attempted to quit on other occasions. Usually by day 3 of quitting I am a mess and go back to it! I have been vaping for 7 days now and can’t get over the fact that I don’t miss a real cigarette! My husband still smokes yet I can sit near him without going into a panic. I just have a few puffs on my e-cigarette and I’m fine? Is it normal to not crave the real thing after being a smoker for so long? I’ve largely put it down to psychology….I willed them to be a positive replacement? I must add that I have no smoking ailments, illnesses etc I just got sick of spending huge amounts of money on them and just felt that at 55 years old it was time I gave up. I just am so surprised that I have no withdrawal symptoms whatsoever…….

    1. I quit after 50yrs tried the cheap ones with the wicks then got a good one gumnic as soon as i used it i said i wont smoke a cig again ive used premier oils and £ shops its a year since ive smoke my home clothes smell nice fresh and i have more money i can breath again so if you get right puffer coils you can do it

    2. You’re not the only one Angela, I’m 55 too and had been smoking for 40 years, but I was amazed when I started vaping that I didn’t have any of the cravings I’d always had before when trying to give up.
      I now don’t smoke at all and have been vaping for 3 years and would say that my health is much improved since I started to vape.

    3. ” I just have a few puffs on my e-cigarette and I’m fine? Is it normal to not crave the real thing after being a smoker for so long?”

      Chain smoker for 45 years and I have found the same thing. But that lack of a craving can lead you to forget to vape for long periods of time, and that can lead to actual withdrawal symptoms. Because you’re going “cold turkey” by accident. I did, it wasn’t pleasant. Vaping more consistently now, and feeling much better. Hope you are continuing to improve Angela, best of luck.

  4. I have recently stopped smoking well just 6 days ago and that is after 33 years I use a decent e cigarette with some expensive oils for the time being I am surprised that I don’t really miss the real cigarettes I think the key is to tell yourself that e cigarette are a real replacement for the real ones and don’t think about smoking cigarettes anymore I haven’t yet felt the health benefits though may be it’s too early

  5. I have been vaping for 3 weeks now. Was forced to quit Cigarettes didn’t want to. Health issues. Doc said it was give up cigarettes or lose my left leg. A no-brainer even after 60 plus years of smoking. They put a stent into the artery in my left leg cause it was completely blocked from smoking. Seems that cigarette smoking makes the blood vessel and artery walls sticky causing them to plug up over time. Plaque not clots. Vaping has kept me off the cigarettes and I have done so without any nicotine in my juice. I didn’t know anything about vaping so I went to a shop where I live. They have been very helpful and I feel fortunate they were around. Who knows I may beat this thing yet.

    1. THE VER SAME THING HAPPENED TO ME. I HAVE PARIFERIAL NEUROPATHY AND THEY TOLD ME I HAD TO QUIT. SO I STARTING VAPING 3 WEEKS AGO AND STARTED OUT ON 6MGS OF NICOTINE AND TODAY I CHANGED TO 1MG OF NICOTINE. I HAVE NOT WANTED A REAL CIGARETTE SINCE IVE BEEN VAPING. I COULDNT BELIEVE IT. MY BLOOD PRESSURE IS UP SLIGHTLY AND MY LOWER LEGS ARE RETAING FLUID BUT IM SUPPOSED TO BE ON LASIX BUT HAVENT HAD ANY IN A WHILE. GOING TO DR AND GET ME SOME TOMORROW.VAPEING IS SAVING MY LIFE…I HOPE.

  6. I am nearly 80 and was aware of becoming increasingly breathless, with difficulty in walking up even slight inclines. So, I decided to try vaping instead of smoking a pipe as even if it proved a failure after just one week, the cost of the vaping stick and medium strength juice would have been about the same as that for my pack of tobacco and matches. 3 months on and I have had no desire whatsoever to go back to smoking my pipe, a habit of 60 years standing. There has been a slight reduction in blood pressure, a significant fall in my at rest pulse rate and an improvement in blood oxygen saturation levels. Best of all is I can once again walk from my home to the town centre, almost exactly a mile away, stroll around doing whatever I went there to do, and then walk back home without any difficulty, and it is seriously uphill for about three quarters of the way.

  7. I’ve been vaping for a week, and yes I have a bit of a sore throat and a dry mouth, but I have a really weird thing that has happened. I’ve been getting cravings to GO OUTSIDE and do it. I thought that if I started vaping instead of smoking, then the miserable bits of sitting outside, often on my own, in the dark, in the rain, and in the winter, would be gone, because I’d be allowed to sit inside. But no, I’ve been out into the garden a few times, and earlier I got really annoyed because it was raining too hard to go out. I know it’s all psychological – but I didn’t realise how much I appreciated that quiet time, and just being outdoors. Also, I don’t know how other people do it, but a five-minute vape seemed a bit more satisfying than the “every so often” habit I’m getting into while I’m inside. I’m also drinking less. I know it’s Christmas/NY and drink abounds, but if I took a glass of wine outside with a cigarette it would be sip/smoke/sip/smoke… and I don’t seem to be doing that while vaping.

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