Why Does Vaping Make You Cough?

Posted on September 01, 2015 by Paul McNamara

You may have recently switched to e cigarettes in an attempt to quit smoking. But now, just days after become a vaper, you are experiencing an irritating cough and sore throat from the very device that you thought would help improve your health!

This can be an extremely frustrating situation. Don’t worry, you aren't alone. In a recent survey conducted in the UK almost 57 % of respondents said they coughed when using an electronic cigarette for the first time.

These preventable symptoms are common amongst new e cig users, and by understanding the most prevalent causes you can usually resolve this problem quite quickly. For most vapers, coughing is only a temporary effect.

Let’s take a look at the possible reasons why vaping could be making you cough and some of the most effective solutions.

Possible Reasons

1) Irritants in Vapour

About 1 in 10 people are sensitive or allergic to propylene glycol (PG). The reactions are usually skin irritations but coughing could also be a symptom of sensitivity to PG.

Products containing PG can be found in many common items around your house such as Pharmaceuticals, makeup, shampoo, deodorant, asthma inhalers and pet food.

Although PG is viewed by most vapers as the main culprit, there may also be other unknown ingredients, contaminants or by-products in the e-vapour that are causing these irritant effects.

It is unknown why that after sustained use the vast majority of smokers no longer cough, but one possible explanation is that your body gets used to these chemicals.

2) Lack of Anesthetics

Another theory is that tobacco smoke or some traditional cigarettes contain ingredients that have cooling and/or anesthetic properties that reduce the harshness of cigarette smoke.

The absence of anaesthetics and antitussives in e cigarettes could explain why you cough when you first try vaping.

3) Cilia Regrowth

When you smoke, you slowly destroy tiny hair-like projections on your respiratory tract called cilia. When you cease smoking, these slowly begin to grow back and this change can cause you to cough.

This regrowth or cilia could be causing new vapers to cough. This would also explain why some new vapers have a recurring cough when they make the switch to vaping. However, this theory does not explain why smokers cough when they vape for the very first time.

4) Nicotine Strength & Throat Hit

Some eliquids come in a range of different nicotine strengths and others do not contain nicotine. All the eliquids you will find on the Vaphilia website are nicotine-free. If you’re an experienced vaper and you have tried a zero nicotine e-liquid, you would have noticed a great reduction in the throat hit. A higher nicotine level appears to lead to a harsher vape, and an increased probability of coughing.

Some ex-smokers do find though that they need a high nicotine level in order to successfully make the switch to e-cigarettes. Your e cigarette may be too powerful for you, and could be producing too much vapour for you.

If, as well as some coughing and a sore throat, you find yourself feeling lightheaded or nauseous at times, your body could be reacting to too much nicotine. Reducing the nicotine strength in your e-liquid could resolve this issue.

5) Vaping Technique and Frequency

Use higher ratio of VG in your eliquid. PG tends to give a harsher throat. VG on the other hand tends to mellow out the throat hit and gives a smoother feel.

Lower your nicotine level and simply vape more often.

If you have a tank with adjustable airflow open up the airflow. Tighter draws tends to give more flavour, but also increase the throat hit. Airy draws decrease throat hit.

6) Device used

The device used can also contribute to coughing. In fact, many users cough when they first switch to a sub-ohm device. Sub-ohm devices have atomiser coils with a resistance of less than one ohm. Some experienced vapers “sub-ohm” in order to increase the power output of fixed voltage devices (such as certain mechanical mods) to create more vapour or flavour.

So if coughing is an issue for you, it may be worth using a more basic device when you start off. If you need help choosing the correct device for you refer to our E Cigarette Starter Guide – Part 2 Batteries and Starter Kits, or contact our friendly team for expert advice.

7) Dehydration

Your mouth could be dehydrated. Both propylene glycol (PG) and vegetable glycerine (VG) attract moisture, which helps to produce the clouds of vapour that are visible when exhale.

A minor side effect of prolonged vaping can be dehydration and occasionally a sore or dry throat, which could be making you cough.

Possible Solutions

1) Experiment with Techniques

It’s important to experiment with technique to find the right one for you. You might like to vary the speed at which you inhale and exhale and see what works.

Remember not to vape the same way you would smoke, you might want to try taking lighter draws, with slightly smaller inhales.

At Vaphilia, we are happy to provide our customers with advice on achieving the best vaping experience possible. We understand the difficulties you can encounter and can give you tips on how to overcome these minor hurdles.

2) Change PG/VG Ratio

If you continue to experience a cough when you vape, you might consider reducing the amount of PG in your mix. VG is smoother than PG, and many vapers who use high powered box mods find they need to use an e-liquid with a high VG ratio in order to avoid coughing.

3) Experiment With Nicotine Levels

We’ve seen that nicotine can affect the throat hit that you get. So if coughing is an issue, it may be worth temporarily reducing the nicotine that you use.

Once you are used to vaping, you may want to increase the nicotine level if it helps you stay off tobacco cigarettes.

4) Drink Water

PG and VG can cause minor dehydration but this can be remedied by simply drinking more water while vaping. Having a hot or cold drink will normally help too, it’s just important to keep up your fluids.

5) Add a drop of menthol or try an e-liquid containing menthol

Some vapers have noted that adding a drop of menthol e-liquid to their e-juice makes a difference. You might like to try our popular Menthol e-liquid made by Mt Baker Vapor.

6) Try an e-cig with a less powerful battery.

We have a range of different devices which come with different kinds of batteries and also sell batteries separately. To learn more about batteries read our E Cigarette Starter Guide – Part 2 Batteries and Starter Kits.

7) Don’t give up!

There are a lot of vapers out there like us who know the benefits of making the switch to vaping outweigh the initial hurdles.

Most vapers find that coughing or a sore throat are only temporary effects so it’s important not to get discouraged and keep persevering.

We know that it is possible to enjoy a rewarding vaping experience without the discomfort you are feeling. Feel free to give us a call on (03) 9528 2548 or stop by one of our store in Ripponlea to chat to a vaping veteran.

We are confident that with our help you will achieve a seriously satisfying vaping experience!

*Please note: The information presented in this article should not replace the counsel of a medical professional. If you experience any symptoms that you feel warrant medical attention, we strongly recommend that you consult your doctor.

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