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WHAT IS VAPER’S TONGUE AND HOW TO CURE IT?

As part of our articles about e-cigarettes and vaping, we like to address some of the issues and answer to most common questions that people have when they quit smoking using an e-cigarette.

If you have been vaping for a while or perhaps vaping a bit more than usual (like in lockdown), you may have found that your tongue started to feel a bit numb.  Or that you couldn’t taste the flavour in your favourite e-cigarette refill.  These are symptoms of a widespread but not serious phenomenon called Vaper’s Tongue.  

In this Vaper’s Guide to What is Vaper’s Tongue and How To Cure It, we will get into the scientific explanation, understand how your taste buds work, the main causes of vaper’s tongue and how best to cure it.  

Don’t worry as this is not a serious or long term issue, but the loss of taste or sense of smell are some of the short term effects from over-vaping.

WHAT IS VAPER’S TONGUE?

Also known as Vaper’s Fatigue, Vaper’s Tongue is a relatively new medical phenomenon that is only found in people using e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation tool and feels like an extra layer or coating on your tongue that suppresses the flavour of your favourite vape!  It can cover a range of effects from going off your favourite flavour to losing the sense of taste for all food and drinks.
  
In both cases, the condition is temporary and will go back to normal over time and by following some of the tricks we will outline below. 

THE SCIENTIFIC EXPLANATION

Our tongue is the heart and soul of our taste experience in life.  It is the largest muscle in our body (which is weird right?) and can contain up to 10,000 taste buds.  These taste buds are found on the little bumps on your tongue called papillae.  When you get Vaper’s Tongue, you are temporarily overloading your taste receptors to a specific flavour.  


HOW YOUR TASTE WORKS

Taste works in a number of ways.  Most people think it is just our tongue and taste buds that allow us to taste the flavours in life.  Our tongues contain five key taste receptors which detect the following flavours:  Sweet, Sour, Bitter, Salty and the new kid on the block Umami (savoury). 

Every time you inhale on your vape, your taste receptors are awakened which sends positive (or negative) messages to your brain to let you know you are enjoying what you are vaping.  

And your taste buds are constantly changing - they can regenerate themselves within 10 to 14 days!

excessive vaping can lead to the temporary loss of your taste buds
But taste also relies on your sense of smell or olfactory senses.  These olfactory senses are two-fold - the main one that recognizes particles in the air and the other accessory system which senses fluid-phase stimuli.  If there is a disruption in the olfactory senses and your brain, you can experience a number of smell disorders.  According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, these smell disorders are:
Anosmia. Loss of sense of smell
Ageusia. Loss of sense of taste
Hyposmia. Reduced ability to smell
Hypogeusia. Reduced ability to taste sweet, sour, bitter, or salty things

So your nose can play a big part in your ability to tell the difference between a Tobacco or Raspberry vape!

WHAT CAUSES VAPER’S TONGUE?

The causes of vapers’ tongue can be attributed to some of the following issues.

OLFACTORY

Changes in your olfactory from over vaping, a cold or sinus infection, smoking cigarettes, a vitamin deficiency or taking some medication can all impair your sense of taste.  There is a lot going on from the tip of your tongue, to your taste receptors, into your nose and eventually into your brain receptors.  Any slight changes in your olfactory may affect your taste.  
 

SMOKING

If you have recently stopped smoking or had a few cheeky cigarettes, this can have an impact on your ability to taste your vape!  Many of the chemicals that are found in cigarettes are put there to specifically reduce your ability to taste.  If you have ever had  a week of cigarettes because you had a cold and then you light up your first cigarette, you will definitely notice how disgusting a cigarette tastes.  That’s because your taste buds have started to regenerate and the true taste of cigarettes comes through.

smoking cigarettes can lead to the loss of your sense of taste

DEHYDRATION

Another potential cause of Vaper’s Tongue is dehydration and lack of water.  The human body is a magnificent thing and is made up of 75% water!  When you are vaping, one of the main ingredients Propylene Glycol (PG) is hygroscopic and can bond with the water molecules in your saliva which can lead to dry mouth.  If you are vaping a lot, the Propylene Glycol can lead to a dehydrated feeling, dry mouth and even a slight headache.  

So when you are vaping it is important to always drink more water than you normally do.

VAPING THE SAME FLAVOUR

As the old adage goes, too much of a good thing…. Or something like that.  When you are vaping the same flavour, your olfactory sense and taste buds may become less receptive to the intricate or subtle flavours in your e-liquid.  So maybe switch to a completely different flavour for a few days to give the taste buds a rest.

POOR DENTAL HYGIENE

This may seem commonsensical, but if you don’t take care of your oral health, your sense of taste can be affected.  If you are not brushing your teeth and flossing on a regular basis, you can experience a build of bad bacteria and tarter and can lead to other issues like gum disease and even premature tooth loss.  

poor dental hygiene may lead to vapers' tongue and loss of taste

DAMAGED TASTE BUDS

Another factor in losing your sense of taste could be damaged taste buds.  There are a number of ways in which you can cause damage to your taste buds including an infection, smoking cigarettes, extremely hot and spicy foods, excessive alcohol consumption and some medications.  Age also can affect your taste buds and their ability to regenerate. 

Damaged taste buds will eventually heal themselves within 10 to 14 days.

MOUTH DRYNESS

Many people who experience Vaper’s Tongue complain about mouth dryness.  As mentioned previously, the Propylene Glycol in e-liquids binds with the water in your saliva and can give you the feeling of being parched.  

TASTE DISORDERS

As we mentioned previously in this guide, there are a number of Taste Disorders that may lead to the loss of taste.  These taste disorders can be caused by an illness (sinus infection or a cold), head injury, exposure to certain chemicals, snorting cocaine, hormone changes and smoking cigarettes.  Some of these can be prevented (stop snorting coke and smoking cigarettes on a night out), some are temporary while others may not be avoided - like a head trauma.  

BLOCKED NOSE

If you are experiencing a cold or even hayfever, you will suffer from a blocked nose.  Your sense of taste is equally reliant on your ability to smell.  When you have a cold, you can hardly taste your food.  It’s the same when vaping.  If your nose is blocked, your ability to taste the flavour of your e-cigarette will be significantly reduced.  

MEDICINES

Another reason that you may lose your sense of smell could be some of the medications you may be taking for another medical ailment.  Some of medicines that can lead to the loss of taste include: allopurinol, captopril, enalapril, nitroglycerin, diltiazem, dipyridamole, nifedipine, hydrochlorothiazide, lisinopril, lithium, lovastatin, and levodopa.

Taking some of these medicines may lead you to believe that you have Vaper’s tongue but it could just be one of the side effects of your medication.

taking various medicines may lead to the loss of your sense of taste

STRESS AND ANXIETY

Stress and anxiety can also have an impact on your ability to taste.  Weirdly, when you have an anxiety attack or increase in stress levels, your taste buds might react.  As well, when you are stressed, you tend to breathe through your mouth more which can affect your salivary glands or increase oral bacteria.  Acid Reflux is a common reaction to stress as well.  Vaping while you are stressed may help you calm down, but be aware that the loss of the sense of taste may occur for a number of these reasons.  

stress and anxiety can cause the loss of taste

AGING E-LIQUIDS

Another potential loss of flavour in you e-liquids could be the age.  Unlike a bottle of fine red wine, vape juice does not get better with age.  Most e-liquids, either nic salts or freebase nicotine based juices, have a shelf life and should be used prior to the expiration of the best before date.  At SMOKO E-Cigarette, our products have a best before date of 2 years from the date of manufacturing.  
We always recommend using your vape refills, cigalike cartridges and e-liquids before the best before date to ensure the best flavour.  

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU HAVE VAPOURS' TONGUE?

When you experience Vapers’ Tongue, you may experience a loss of taste and smell,  dryness of the mouth and possibly a feeling of numbness on your tongue.  If you are concerned that your loss of taste is an issue with ongoing deterioration of your olfaction as a result of a new medicine your started taking or after a head trauma, we would recommend speaking with your doctor or try calling the NHS on 119 to seek some medical advice.  

However, in 99% of the cases of Vapers’ Tongue, the following remedies listed below should reverse some of the symptoms you are experiencing. 

THE BEST REMEDIES FOR VAPERS' TONGUE

This list of remedies for Vapers’ Tongue are simple steps that you should try if you are you have been using larger vape mods or a vape kit and you have lost your sense of taste.  

HYDRATION AND INCREASE WATER INTAKE

Drink more water!!  This is the easiest remedy and should be part of anyone’s health diet.  Keeping hydrated will not only replace the water lost through vaping, water is one of the most important things we need to consume to stay healthy and fit.  

drinking more water and staying hydrated can help fix Vapers' Tongue

MIX UP THE E-LIQUIDS AND CHANGE YOUR E-LIQUID FLAVOURS

Try to mix up the e-liquids that you are using.  For many of our customers, they tend to find the flavour they love the most and then stick to it.  If you are experiencing some of the symptoms of Vapers’ Tongue, we would recommend switching from your favourite fruit flavour e-liquid to a mint or menthol flavour e-cigarette for a few days.  This change of flavour could be enough to reset your taste buds and help keep you smoke-free.

IMPROVE YOUR DENTAL HYGIENE

Improving your dental hygiene may seem like an obvious remedy, but many people forget to brush their teeth and floss on a regular basis.  This can help to remove any bacteria in your mouth.  Also try to clean your tongue with a tongue scrapper to remove any debris or film that may be covering your taste buds.  

using a tongue scraper can help remedy Vapers' Tongue

STOP SMOKING

A common complaint from most smokers is their loss of taste.  As mentioned previously, there are loads of chemicals that are added to cigarettes to mask the true taste (quite a disgusting flavour as we know) of smoking.  Even if you smoke and vape at the same time, cutting out the cigarettes could be a great way to combat vapers’ tongue.

REDUCE CAFFEINE AND ALCOHOL INTAKE

Reducing your caffeine and alcohol intake could also help to improve your sense of taste.  Firstly, both caffeine and alcohol can dehydrate your body and your olfaction.  When you are drinking both caffeine and alcohol, you are not drinking water.  Most medical professionals recommend drinking at least 8 glasses of water every day.  So try cutting back on your 10 cups of coffee and maybe swap your pints of lager for some water for a day or two.

VAPE UNFLAVOURED E-LIQUIDS

Some people may recommend trying to vape unflavoured e-liquids for a period of time.  However, we feel that if you try many of the other remedies previously mentioned, you may not have to resort to vaping an unflavoured vape juice.

WHAT TO DO IF VAPERS' TONGUE PERSISTS

If your vaper’s tongue persists after you have tried many of the above remedies, you may wish to stop vaping for 10 to 14 days to allow your taste buds to regenerate.  Using a nicotine patch will help to satisfy your cravings during this period. 

If your loss of taste and smell continue, then you may wish to seek medical advice.

WHAT IS VAPERS' TONGUE AND HOW TO FIX IT 

Vapers’ Tongue is a new medical phenomenon that only came into existence with the growing use of e-cigarettes and larger vape mods.  It may occur when you vape too much or use the same flavour of e-liquid for a period of time.  In most cases it can be easily reversed by trying some of the remedies we have discussed in this Vapers’ Guide to Vapers’ Tongue.  

If your sense of taste does not return after trying these helpful remedies to solve your Vapers’ Tongue, we would suggest you stop vaping for a period of time and perhaps speak to your doctor.

Many people who use larger vape mods and open systems may experience Vapers’ Tongue on a more frequent basis due to the extra power and large amount of vapour that they produce.  So switching to a smaller vape starter kit may be another great solution and help you to live smoke-free!

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