What are the Side effects from vaping?
Vaping side effects include dry mouth and potential mouth and/or throat irritation, coughing, shortness of breath and headaches. In rarer cases, a vaper could experience nausea and heart palpitations, though these can be caused by nicotine poisoning as a result of vaping too much. Vapers may experience reduced taste sensation and develop a nicotine addiction if they weren’t a smoker.
Side effects are unintended secondary consequences to a product, and vaping is no different. The range of side effects includes things like nicotine poisoning if you use a high nicotine vape liquid and vape a little too much, or use the incorrect inhale technique for your device. This article aims to outline the side effects from vaping, and what you can do to prevent them.
What is vaping?
Vaping is the act of using a battery powered device to heat a liquid into an aerosol which is then inhaled by the user. The idea is that the liquid - known as ‘vape juice’ or ‘e-liquid’ - contains nicotine so that when the mixture is heated and inhaled, nicotine in the vapour is absorbed in the lungs.
This is why the E-Cigarette was invented; as a less harmful alternative to smoking! Vaping eliminates the thousands of chemicals present in tobacco smoke, over 50 of which are known to cause cancer. Other nasty chemicals are formed when the tobacco is burning: carbon monoxide sticks to our blood cells in the place of oxygen, and tar is formed which ends up sticking to our airways.
Public Health England, the leading health authority in the UK, continue to review evidence on the safety of vaping, but their current evidence review indicates E-Cigarettes are 95% less harmful than tobacco cigarettes!
What are the side effects of vaping too much?
The side effects from vaping can be broken down into categories:
- Nicotine side effects
- Vapour side effects
- Impact of vaping on the body side effects
Nicotine side effects
Many people believe that as nicotine is present in cigarettes that it is, by default, bad for us. However, this is not the case. Nicotine has previously only been available in tobacco products like snuff, chewing tobacco and smoking tobacco, so the user inevitably ends up taking in many of the other harmful chemicals in the tobacco plant.
Since the advent of nicotine replacement therapy products – these include nicotine gum, nicotine patches, nicotine lozenges and nicotine inhalators – we have been able to confirm the safety of these products, indicating that nicotine itself does not present the risk found in smoking cigarettes.
Nicotine is being studied as it appears to offer some neuroprotective function by stimulating certain receptors in the brain, with evidence that it could help to prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Tourette’s disease, ulcerative colitis and sleep apnoea. Other benefits or positive uses for nicotine includes body weight reduction and cognitive enhancement. These could be considered positive side effects!
Ingesting too much nicotine can result in unwanted side effects and is typically known as nicotine poisoning. Symptoms within 15 minutes of nicotine poisoning include:
- Nicotine addiction
- Increased heart rate and blood pressure
- Nausea and vomiting
- Quick, heavy breathing
- Dizziness or tremors
- Confusion and anxiety
These symptoms can shift within thirty minutes to four hours later:
- Shallow breathing
- Slow heartbeat
- Extreme fatigue
- Weakness or a lack of muscle control and slow reflexes
- Pale skin
In the most extreme cases of nicotine poisoning, symptoms can include seizures, breathing difficulties, coma and/or respiratory failure. What’s good to know is that with us at SMOKO, you would need to consume 50 of our E-Cigarette refills or 25 of our VAPE POD refills in a 30 minute period to consume a dangerous level of nicotine. Chances are, your body will let you know you are over-doing it long before you get to that level of nicotine consumption!
Vapour side effects
These side effects happen due to the nature of E-Cigarette vapour, but your choice of device and e-liquid can impact whether you experience these effects.
- Dry mouth and throat
- Mouth or throat irritation
There are a few steps you can take to minimise or eliminate the occurrence of these effects.
Coughing can occur if the vapour inhaled has high levels of nicotine as nicotine contributes to the throat-hit that smokers are looking for when they switch to vaping. In the UK, the legal maximum nicotine strength for retail is 2.0%, however people can mix their own e-liquids using nicotine shots which allows for making e-liquids stronger than 2.0%. These super-strong, homemade liquids could be a cause for coughing when you vape.
Dry mouth and throat are common side effects because propylene glycol (PG) and vegetable glycerine (VG), two of the main ingredients in e-liquids, are both hygroscopic – this means the molecules absorb moisture. A dry mouth and throat can lead to coughing, and irritate the mouth and throat, which can lead to more coughing - so make sure to drink plenty of water to stay well hydrated!
Headache can be a sign that you are dehydrated, but also could be an indication of having taken too much nicotine. Drinking water should help, rehydrating you or encouraging urination which gives the body a chance to get rid of some nicotine.
The impact of vaping on the body
This is an area that is up for debate, and you will find different information from a variety of sources. Some articles and studies claim that vaping is just as bad for you as smoking, indicating the occurrence of EVALI (E-Cigarette and Vaping Associated Lung Injury) as a result of vaping, when the truth deserves better treatment.
We have seen studies from Dental experts claiming that vaping leads to tooth erosion, articles that cite ‘popcorn lung’ and EVALI as side effects from vaping, and other articles claiming that vaping hardens the blood vessels and that E-Cigarettes associated with cancer! The devil, as they say, is in the details:
- EVALI – This classification of injury is from the CDC in the United States, however every instance of EVALI had vitamin E acetate in the samples of fluid from the lungs. Vitamin E acetate has been used by consumers in the US to add illicit substances to their e-liquid, such as the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis THC.
- A study from Cardiff Metropolitan University indicated that e-liquid has a high potential for eroding teeth. Dental experts from Newcastle University tore this study apart, stating that ‘no long-term evidence related to oral and systemic health effects exists’
- The Cardiff study also claimed that E-Cigarettes are linked with cancer, even citing a paper that makes no such claim! Cancer Research UK’s own study found E-Cigarettes to be 97% less harmful than smoking!
- The risk of popcorn lung, indicated by the same study from Cardiff University as a potential side effect of vaping, is only present where diacetyl is included as an ingredient in e-liquids, and even then, may be at levels too low to cause popcorn lung. The paper claimed that diacetyl is present in most flavoured vapes when it is actually illegal for use in e-liquids in the UK.
- The World Health Organization’s own information on vaping is ignored by the UK health authorities. Information from the WHO indicates that ‘evidence reveals that these products are harmful to health and are not safe.’ The same paragraph continues: ‘However, it is too early to provide a clear answer on the long-term impact of using them or being exposed to them’. They make a statement they say is based on evidence, then acknowledge there is not enough evidence to support their statement. Good going, guys!
What we can confirm are the aspects of vaping that have been well studied – like the impact of nicotine on the body. Many of the studies being conducted on vaping are small scale and have other confounding factors, such as subject smoking history, that would contribute to outcomes such as cancer risk. More often than not, we are seeing links with cancer being drawn without regard for previous smoking history in vapers.
Smoking can increase the risk of diabetes, with a contributing factor being that nicotine can change how cells take in glucose. While nicotine has been seen to induce a slight increase in blood sugar levels, studies have yet to find a link between diabetes and E-Cigarette use.
What Are The Side Effects From Vaping? Conclusion
There you have it! Side effects from vaping too much are normally short-lived, or normalise as you get used to vaping. Even nicotine poisoning, which is very hard to do with E-Cigarettes, normally passes without much consequence and is unlikely to be at levels that pose a serious risk to your health. With that said, we recommend you seek medical advice if you experience any of the nicotine overdose symptoms discussed in this article.
Do remember that the vaping market is a very different beast in the UK and Europe compared with America. The United States put very little regulation in place for E-Cigarettes initially, but as a result of unscrupulous marketing practices targeting the youth and the occurrence of lung injury where vapers have added illicit substances to their vape juice, have now gone to the opposite extreme of allowing only tobacco and menthol flavour e-liquids. The size of the US compared with the UK goes some way to explaining why we see articles containing information we know to be irrelevant here in the UK.
If you are a smoker looking to quit, studies on using E-Cigarettes to quit smoking have shown they could be up to twice as effective as other forms of nicotine replacement therapy! At SMOKO, our liquids are made in the UK and tested with our devices by the UK’s MHRA – so you know that the SMOKO E-Cigarette is at least 95% less harmful than smoking! What are you waiting for? Make the switch with SMOKO today!