Do E-Cigs Hurt the Throat? [UPDATED]

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Each day, we receive a number of queries about e-cig use, and whether or not vaping will hurt a user’s throat. It’s a popular discussion around here, and even though we’ve covered this topic before, we think it warrants another look.

Understanding Vaping and Throat Irritation

When making the initial switch from smoking to vaping, new e-cig users may experience a few minor side effects as they become accustomed to vaping. One such side effect involves throat irritation. When a new e-cig user experiences a sore throat that does not subside within a few days of regular product use, the problem is usually caused by a handful of culprits: nicotine strength, vaping style, and to a lesser extent, e-liquid composition.

It Might Be the Nicotine

Liquid nicotine in vial

Typically, individuals switching from smoking a pack per day benefit most from a nicotine level of about 2.4%. This strength offers a moderate throat hit and satisfies the average pack-a-day smoker’s cravings without overwhelming the senses. Likewise, heavier smokers should aim for a higher strength to ensure their nicotine needs are being met without having to use the product more than necessary.

If you previously smoked fewer than 20 cigarettes per day and your current e-cig strength is anything higher than 3% nicotine, it is likely the cause of your irritated throat and coughing. A reduction in strength should result in fewer symptoms. If you find yourself feeling lightheaded or experiencing mild nausea in addition to the sore throat, chances are that your body is reacting to an overabundance of nicotine. As always, if you experience any symptoms that you feel warrant medical attention, we strongly suggest consulting your doctor.

It Might Be HOW You Vape

vaping vs. smoking

The way you vape can also play a role in how your throat feels during and after using your electronic cigarette. Inhaling vapor from an e-cig is very different than smoking a tobacco cigarette. Taking deep, full draws of e-cigs in the same manner as a cigarette will likely result in an uncomfortable sensation in the back of the throat and in the lungs. Rather than drawing in briskly and deeply, most people find that an easy, measured drag (2 to 3 seconds) results in maximum enjoyment. The vapor should enter your mouth easily and fluidly with minimal effort, causing zero discomfort as you inhale and exhale. Ideally, short, rapid puffs should be avoided, as this style does not lend itself to satisfying clouds of vapor

It Might Be the E-Liquid

Throat irritation from vaping bad e-liquids

In rare occurrences, coughing and throat irritation can result from different types of e-liquids. When using electronic cigarettes and e-liquids from other brands (and why would you do that?) that are predominantly (80+%) propylene glycol (PG)-based, the result can be an overly dry throat, leading to soreness. White Cloud e-liquids contain a 70/30, PG to VG ratio. After careful testing, we have found this balance results in highly flavorful liquids that produce satisfying clouds of vapor.

Narrowing Down the Causes of Throat Irritation from Vaping

Tips for vaping checklist

To bring it full circle, if using e-cigs has caused you to experience a sore throat, there are a few things you can do to remedy it.

  • Check your nicotine level: It may be too high. If you are using a very strong nicotine strength, go down a level and see how it feels.
  • Monitor your vaping style. If you are puffing deeper, longer or more frequently than you smoked traditional cigarettes, you could be irritating your throat.
  • Drink water to help soothe your throat, and consider consuming beverages that can moisturize your throat, such as tea with honey and lemon.

Like any new practice, using e-cigs might require a little getting used to; but when the growing pains subside, we’re sure you’ll enjoy the switch, just as thousands of other e-cig users have before you.

Related: Quitting Smoking and the “Smoker’s Flu”