Why Do I Cough When I Vape? Does Vaping Cause Coughing Fits?
Coughing, regardless of the cause, is indeed an unpleasant experience. Coughing is described as a reflex action in a bid to clear your airways. At the time of writing this post, if someone complains of coughing, what quickly comes into your mind is that they could have contracted COVID-19.
But this is wrong. Coughing can even occur naturally and last for a few seconds. Natural cough can be treated with homemade remedies like drinking clear fluid such as water or even taking some rest.
Coughing While Smoking
Smokers’ cough usually occurs in long-term cigarette users and it’s persistent, implying it is more likely to stay for a while. It is usually found to deteriorate in the dawn hours and lessen slightly during day time. The condition is largely associated with smoking which weakens airway cells allowing toxins to infect the lungs.
Therefore, coughing is a consequential action of the body attempting to remove these toxins from the lungs. It is hard to distinguish a normal smoker’s cough from a condition that’s persistent and more serious. For instance, cancer of the lung or COPD – Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease – that basically involves tapering of the lungs.
However, over time, you may notice some symptoms like bloodstains in the mucus, shortness of breath, or some hoarse voice. This is a warning to seek medical attention.
Coughing While Vaping
It’s a common phenomenon though not as severe as smoking. According to a study of 600 e-cigarette users, about 57% of them confessed to coughing in their first time vaping. After ten weeks of adapting to vaping, around 92% of them no longer had an issue with coughing. In the following week, only 7% of vapers reported being coughing. This shows vaper’s cough is a bit more reassuring compared with a smoker’s cough that seems to deteriorate over time.
The majority of vapers admit to coughing during their first attempt at e-cigarette. Over time, the condition lessens as they adapt to vaping. To others, the coughing reemerges a couple of weeks later. Naturally, a smoker's cough can worsen over time meaning the subtle dwindling in coughing associated with vaping is a very positive indication.
The presence of propylene glycol (PG) which is a primary component in vape juices is one major cause of coughing associated with vaping. PG is used as a flavor carrier and offers the vapour the most wanted throat hit. If you take too much PG content all at once, the body will react and reject it. High PG levels can be too strong and harsh causing sore throat and this could lead to coughing. Nonetheless, there’s nothing to worry about as PG has been approved as safe for medical and food products. Also, concentrations of nicotine are another contributing factor.
It’s been found that a higher concentration of nicotine is more likely to trigger coughing. Other than the ingredients used to prepare vape juice, another possible cause of coughing is the vaping technique employed. For instance, smokers adopt a technique where they draw smoke straight to their lungs.
This is recommended because regular cigarettes feature anesthetics meant to diminish throat irritation. Vaping is slightly different from smoking. Vapers are advised to adopt the mouth-to-lung (MTL) technique. Using a direct-to-lung (DTL) method is likely to trigger coughing. Lastly, Vegetable glycerin (VG), the component in e-liquid that generates vapour, is another potential cause of coughing.
What Causes Vaper’s Cough?
Some vapers will probably argue that they cough because of the PG content in vape juice, which might be true. But based on a rough estimate, not everyone is sensitive to it, only a smaller population is allergic to PG. In addition, there are other components, contaminants, and by-products in a vape juice that can cause coughing.
This raises the question, what makes people cough when they vape? And here are some of the reasons:
- Using the wrong vaping technique/method, especially in newbies and ex-smokers.
- Irritant products and chemicals in the vapour such as PG.
- Carbonized and old wick
- High levels of nicotine may cause harsh throat hits.
- Regrowth of cilia especially in ex-smokers.
- Unfamiliarity with various devices. Changing devices can be a potential cause of coughing especially when used wrongly.
- Unforeseen taste of vape juice can trigger coughing.
- Dehydration of the body is caused by too much vaping. This may leave your throat itchy.
- Dry wick causes burnt hits and dry hits resulting in a mouthful of burnt cotton.
- Though in rare cases, sometimes hot vape juice may spit into your mouth.
What’s The Solution?
As coughing diminishes from 57 percent to 7 percent in ten weeks, the main and most recommended solution is to hold on to your vape until your body adapts to it. Also, you can experiment with different amounts of PG and nicotine to determine your most appropriate spot for these ingredients. If that doesn’t help, you can try some of these methods:
Use A Different Vaping Technique
The major issue between transitioning from regular cigarettes to electronic cigarettes is techniques of consumption. While some people draw smoke straight to the lungs, others hold it in their mouths before pushing it to the lungs. This is a major challenge for someone who’s switching to vapes after having been hegemonized by regular cigarettes.
One method can work perfectly for smoking but will absolutely fail with vaping. Also, your vaping technique can change depending on the level of nicotine in your vape juice. Compared to regular cigarettes, with vapes, you have absolute control over the amount of nicotine inside your e-cig. You can begin with as low as 0.6% nicotine concentration. You should tread carefully to avoid putting yourself in an awkward situation.
When vaping, you’re recommended to draw vapour into your mouth then inhale it to the lungs. Over time, after you’ve become a vaping master, you can try the direct-to-lung inhalation method. This time you would have adapted to the vapour and changing your inhalation technique won’t trigger coughing. In any case, you are advised to experiment as people have different experiences when transitioning from ordinary cigarettes to vapes.
Experiment With Your E-juice Ratio
Vegetable glycerin (VG) and propylene glycol (PG) are the main base components of e-juice. It’s the combination of these compounds that generates bigger vapour clouds and strong throat hits that vapes are known for. The rest, including flavoring and nicotine, form the additive part that determines the taste and texture of the e-juice.
PG and nicotine determine the degree of harshness, also called throat hits. So to smooth out your vape juice, you should get a combination with less PG to VG ratio. To vapers who’re allergic to PG, the fluid can trigger irritations and cause sore throats.
One way of experimenting is to reduce nicotine concentration until coughing starts to diminish. Once your vaper’s throat adapts to the vape vapour, you can gradually raise the nicotine concentration until you hit your desired level. For vapers who are allergic to some specific flavors such as menthol, they should consider switching them out.
Wait It Out
For cigarette users transitioning to vapes, there’s usually a period of adaptation when cilia in the throat start re-growing. When they vape, vapour triggers a tickling feeling in their throat resulting in coughing. Those who switch over immediately usually find themselves hacking up phlegm because their immune system begins clearing out the tar that dislodged their lungs. In this case, there is very little that can be done.
If you find yourself in such a situation, just take baby hits for the first couple of hours until you grow comfortable enough to take longer draws. You’ll realize that the big hits will make you cough, then start the whole process all over again. It may take you a week or forty nights for your throat and lungs to adapt to the sensation of swirling vapor.
Recall the main reason for transitioning from smoking to vaping is more than probably a health choice, way less harmful than ordinary cigarettes. But they share a few similarities. For instance, much like ordinary cigarettes, the consumption of vapes dehydrates your body. The PG content in vape juice causes dehydration as manifested by dry lips and results in coughing as the compound bonds with water in your saliva.
This is particularly true for first-timers who start chain vaping. More ridiculously, it’s easy to begin vaping and forget or fail to notice you’re getting dehydrated until someone sounds a warning to you. All that you need is to keep a bottle of water and some chapstick available.
Change PG/VG Ratio
If you’re vaping with a sub-ohm tank or large vape mod, the higher Propylene Glycol content in your vape juice may be the reason you’re experiencing the coughing and irritation. Adjusting to a higher Vegetable Glycerin and lower Propylene Glycol ratio may be a little smoother on your throat.
Adjust Your Airflow And Wattage
Coughing persistently that you expected? Experiment with your vape settings to get an appropriate spot. Other than a higher level of nicotine or PG content, there could be major problems spawning from an unduly powerful vape. In general, the mightier the vape, the higher the wattage, the bigger the clouds, and the hotter the vapour. Perhaps the latter two points are the cause of your cough.
With no other place to go, a huge vapour will start condensing inside your mouth, throat, and lungs. It will irritate, particularly for vapers who take longer draws, or like holding vapour in the lungs for a while. By reducing your wattage and airflow, you’ll be able to take longer draws without breathing in too much vapour that your body cannot handle.
Slow Down And Avoid Chain Vaping
Not necessarily for cloud chasing or something, it’s incredibly tempting to throw huge vapour clouds all over the place. Yes, quite tempting but horrible for your vape. When you begin heating your vape, simply by pressing the fire button and drawing longer hits to expel big clouds, you’re increasing the chances of overflowing your vape chamber with hot e-juice.
The hot juice will end up spitting into your mouth, so instead of inhaling the expected vapour cloud, you will draw e-juice into your mouth, and then into your throat. Alternatively, the “dangerous” draws may inhibit your wick from soaking properly between the hits causing dry hits. A dry hit is something you should avoid, by all means, it’s unpleasant and occurs unexpectedly. This blend of burnt cotton combined with heated air can also cause horrible coughing, and leave your mouth with a terrible taste. All these irritating events can be averted by going slow and shunning chain vaping.
Change Your Coil
All the vapes, apart from disposable vape pens, need to have their coils swapped after repeated consumption. For instance, after two or three weeks depending on how often you use the device, the old coil should be replaced with a new one. Inside the coil lies a cotton wick that connects the coil to the e-juice reservoir.
After repeated use, the cotton will be charred and clogged with old e-juice flavors. While it’s hard to tell when your coil needs to be changed, two rules can apply. The first indication that you should swap your coil is when your vape juices begin to taste subtly off, and the second one is when you realize that your device is generating a smaller amount of vapour.
Now, with vaping, coughing can be triggered when trying to expel vapour from your airways. Coughing is considered normal especially for newbies vapers as the sensation of vaping is different from smoking – for ex-smokers. According to Dr. Jacques Le Houzec, a nicotine specialist, the majority of smokers are very hesitant when using vapes for the first time.
For that reason, they inhale air with vapour and take short vapour draws from the e-cigarettes. As a result, they inhale vapour in a much similar version as smoke. Since the vapour generated from e-cigarettes is way thicker compared to cigarette smoke, it may be too much for first timers to handle.