Most of us should know it. The first puff on a cigarette, what was that coughing and scratchy throat? He didn’t want to stop at all. Well, vapers can’t avoid this experience either if they puff on an e-cigarette instead of a cigarette. Because some newcomers to vaping complain about an uncomfortable feeling in their throat, coughing or scratching while they puff on an electronic cigarette for the first time. Some give up immediately and put the electronic cigarette aside again. That’s a pity, because it’s definitely a good alternative for quitting smoking and tobacco prevention, which even the German medical profession recently found out.We have mentioned this many times on CAK‘s official blog.
What can be the causes of coughing when vaping?
Around 50% of vapers cough at first. Research also confirms this – coughing, itching and headaches are the most common side effects for first-time vapers. But there is a logical reason for this. While every cigarette tastes more or less the same, even if tobacco smokers always claim the opposite, the world of e-cigarettes and liquids is sprouting with possible combinations, mixtures and settings for a lot, medium or little steam. But every person reacts differently to the ingredients of the liquid and the corresponding setting of their e-cigarette. Especially if you are new to hardware, liquids and e-cigarettes (The 10 most common problems and errors with e-cigarettes), it is likely that you will scratch or cough at the beginning, especially with the first puff. Flavors, PG / VG proportion and water proportion of the liquids, the nicotine content and also the evaporator heads used must be coordinated. And in the end tailored to you. The draw technique also has a big impact on this, as does the wattage and voltage used.
The lung puff, as used by most “normal” smokers of tobacco cigarettes, can lead to unpleasant side effects with e-cigarettes, since they are not predestined for direct lung inhalation, but for cheek puff. There is a 99% chance of a scratchy throat as soon as you use the lungs here. In addition, a liquid with a high nicotine content is often chosen, since smoking cessation is usually tackled slowly and there is a lot of nicotine in the liquid to start with. The direct inhalation via the lungs now increases the effect of the nicotine even further. The possible solutions in this example would either be that the vaper reduces the nicotine content in the liquid, uses nicotine-free liquids or chooses another model that also supports the lungs. But first you should simply try to adapt your e-cigarette drawing technique, because it is also a common source of error that initially leads to unpleasant side effects. Just try the cheek pull. It is almost always user errors that lead to coughing and scratching. But not always.
Cough & itching only temporary side effects when vaping
For 90% of vapers, the side effects are only temporary. Most people suspect that it is due to the propylene glycol (PG) in the liquid. Only about 10% of the population is sensitive to propylene glycol, while the number of allergy sufferers is much lower. In addition, there may occasionally be other unknown ingredients, contaminants, and by-products in the vapor that can cause the cough. But another question arises. Why then do almost all vapers stop coughing after a short time? Why is the itching only a temporary side effect. Well, there is still no clear answer to this, since corresponding long-term studies are missing. But there are many indications that it is similar to the normal tobacco cigarette – the body gets used to it.
Why does the coughing & scratching stop?
No anesthetic for cough stimulus
It has also been suspected (!) for a long time that tobacco smoke contains ingredients that suppress the urge to cough in smokers. This is the only reason why you can inhale the smoke of a conventional cigarette at all, while you can hardly breathe in the cloud of smoke from a campfire, although dried plants are burned in both processes, according to Chris Price of E-Cigarette Politics. Indeed, a few of the 9,600 ingredients in cigarette smoke that have been identified to date actually serve to make the smoke less irritating and keep the user from coughing. These anesthetics and cough medicines are not used for liquids and thus for vaping, which could be an explanation for the beginner’s cough with electronic cigarettes.
The train technique
As mentioned at the beginning, a large proportion of vapers are ex-smokers. And on the old-fashioned fag you draw with lung puffs, while with the e-cigarette the cheek puff is important, not only for the development of the aroma of your liquid. A cheek pull looks like you first draw the vapor into your mouth and only then inhale it. Many vapers quickly realize that the technique they used when smoking leads to coughing and itching with the electronic cigarette. This is also a plausible explanation for why these temporary side effects subside after a short time in experienced vapers. Surveys suggest that method makes a difference, at least for some vapers (E-Cigarettes Figures, Data & Facts in Germany). Ok, many of the respondents are unsure whether it was really the change in puffing technique that ultimately led to symptom relief, but at least 30% of respondents are sure that cheek vaping is crucial.
The flicker hairs are coming back
Smoking destroys the so-called cilia. These are small and hairy extensions of your airways, also called cilia. If you stop smoking, they will slowly grow back. The side effect of this regrowth is coughing. This explains why people often start coughing as soon as they stop smoking, among many other side effects, when one often thinks that the cough is caused by smoking. Yes, indirectly. But the cough after quitting smoking is a clear sign of improvement. It is therefore assumed that the cough in newcomers to vaping is caused by regrowth of the cilia. It remains to be clarified here, however, why one also coughs on the first puff on the steamer. It’s probably a combination of many factors. But the fact of the matter is that in 90% of cases it will quickly diminish and eventually stop altogether.
The throat hit
Almost all people who try an e-cigarette for the first time rely on liquids containing nicotine, because otherwise they fear that the desired flash and throat hit will not occur. But at some point, interest in the flavors of the available liquids wins out. That’s why many experienced vapers have tried liquids that contain no nicotine at some point and found that there is almost no throat hit at all. As the nicotine level increases, so does the risk of scratchy vapor and coughing. But many vapers need these effects in order to be able to switch to electronic cigarettes in the long term. By the way: the model used also plays a role. For example, even experienced vapers cough when they try sub ohm vaping for the first time. So start with a good and preset starter set for e-cigarettes. In addition, higher-quality models release the nicotine more effectively and quickly, which means that the nicotine content in the liquids used can be reduced accordingly, which in turn leads to less coughing and itching. Here, too, there could be a hidden reason why experienced vapers cough less – they use less and less nicotine over time, which is ultimately the goal for many.
The water balance
The ingredients of the liquids (PG and VG) attract water, which supports the formation of dense, large and aromatic clouds of vapor and is extremely important for e-cigarette fans. But of course the steam also attracts the water of the mucous membranes and oral cavity, which can occasionally lead to dehydration and a sore throat.
Overview: what can you do about it?
Be patient: it is normal, especially at the beginning, for coughing and itching to set in. Especially when you have switched from cigarettes to e-cigarettes. Before you throw everything away in panic, completely replace the e-cigarette or throw away the liquids, wait and see. The narcotic used in tobacco cigarettes, which suppresses the urge to cough and is not used in liquids, as well as the new drawing technique and the regrowth of the cilia can be the cause and these will subside by themselves over time.
Zugtechnik: You’ve been waiting and somehow it doesn’t get any better? Then start with the pulling technique and from now on use the cheek pull if you have not already done so.
Reduce voltage and/or power: a high value also means a lot of steam. And some people react to it with an itchy throat, which can also develop into a cough.
Check PG or VG content: there are people, albeit few, who are allergic to PG or VG. The choice of liquid must therefore be adjusted here. There are liquids that either only consist of VG or PG, or whose proportion of PG / VG is very low.
Less nicotine content: we are assuming here that the e-cigarette is used as a switch or as a smoking cessation aid. For this reason, a higher nicotine content is often recommended at the beginning, otherwise the desired effect may not materialize. If you don’t have a cough or scratchy throat, that’s fine too. But if this is the case, a low nicotine level can work wonders.
Drink plenty of water: we already mentioned possible dehydration in the mouth and throat. On the other hand, drinking a lot of water has always helped. Because both the propylene glycol and the vegetable glycerin in liquids can lead to a kind of small dehydration. Both ingredients attract water, which helps create the large and dense cloud of vapor that carries the flavor of the e-liquid. It can occasionally cause a sore throat and contribute to coughing as the moisture in your mouth, throat, and throat dissolves into vapor, so to speak.
Replacing hardware and/or vaporizers: Replacing hardware – incorrectly installed hardware can also lead to coughing fits for numerous reasons. If you’ve tried all other measures and it doesn’t get better, change the hardware. Why? Common problems and misuse of e-cigarettes.
Test & change liquids: not only the PG or VG content is decisive for the vaping experience, but also the aroma used. Some aromas can trigger a cough in certain people. So just try a different flavor or change the liquid supplier if you constantly suffer from coughing and itching.