A sore throat is one of the most common side effects experienced by new vapers.
For those who have come over from smoking it can bring back bad memories of the first cigarettes they ever tried.
For many, the whole point of vaping is to get their nicotine hit whilst avoiding the worst effects of conventional smoking, so an initial sore throat can be discouraging.
It isn’t just beginners though, even people who have been vaping for years can develop a sore throat when they start on a new device or change up e-liquids.
Far from something people only experience with their first vapes, a sore throat can follow a vaper around for years.
This is a frustrating set of circumstances, but it certainly doesn’t have to be. There are steps you can take to avoid getting a sore throat from vaping, and steps to limit the worst of its effects when it does catch up to you.
To know exactly how to avoid this irritating side-effect, we’ll go into what causes it and what you need to watch out for.
Why It Happens
Developing a sore throat from vaping can be caused by several different factors, ranging from the equipment you use and how often you use it, to what you vape to the way you vape it.
Figuring out exactly what is causing your sore throat can be a little tricky because so many of these factors overlap.
When you’re figuring out the culprit for your sore throat, take some time to consider each of these potential causes in turn.
First of all we have to discuss nicotine content. Although vape clouds contain far fewer irritants than tobacco smoke, nicotine itself is known to irritate throats.
If you’re using an E-liquid with high nicotine content this may be the cause of your sore throat.
Funnily enough the opposite is also true, with a lack of nicotine potentially causing a sore throat from vaping. This is what’s known as “Smoker’s Flu” and comes about when someone who smoked heavily begins to cut down drastically.
The sudden lack of nicotine can cause irritation in the throat as the body adjusts to what is essentially a nicotine deficit.
Propylene glycol, one of the primary ingredients of E-liquids, has also been known to cause irritation of the throat when used in conjunction with nicotine.
A high concentration nicotine E-liquid that has a propylene glycol heavy base can be the direct cause of a sore throat from vaping, especially when used in excess.
Speaking of which, another common cause is simply over-vaping. Vaping to excess is sometimes just too much stimulation for your throat, wearing it down and causing irritation.
Likewise, over-use can burn out your coil which will result in dryer, more abrasive hits with improperly vapourised liquid.
It is also possible that a sore throat from vaping is a sign of an allergic reaction, either to the E-liquid or the vape itself.
Some people suffer from a mild nickel allergy which could be induced by any nickel-based vaping coils.
Likewise, some people will find that they have a minor allergy to one of the flavourings in their E-liquids.
Finally, like the burnt-out coil, having too little liquid in your reservoir can result in an abrasive, ‘dry-hit’ that causes irritation.
Sometimes the cause of a sore throat from vaping is as simple as too little liquid and too much heat.
What Is Fine & What To Watch Out For
For peace of mind and the sake of practicality, it’s good to know what to watch out for if you get a sore throat from vaping.
For the most part a sore throat from vaping is nothing to worry about, being as simple and straightforward as a sore throat from anything else.
If all you get is the occasional irritation that quickly fades when you stop using your vape, a sudden soreness that passes within minutes, or a particular kind of irritation that goes away when you switch e-liquids, odds are it’s just a passing sore throat.
In these cases, aside from a few minor changes to the way you vape and possibly some basic throat remedies, there’s nothing you’ll really have to do.
On the other hand, a sore throat from vaping can occasionally be a sign of something more serious happening.
If you get a sore throat from vaping that persists, whatever the e-liquid or device you’re using and after you’ve stopped vaping for a while, you should talk to your doctor.
Likewise, if you ever have significant difficulty breathing or experience any kind of swelling of the throat, you should seek medical advice immediately.
How To Avoid It
Now that we have some of the most common causes of sore throats from vaping in mind, as well as knowing what to watch out for, what can we do to avoid them?
Of course each of these solutions is specific to one of the causes of a sore throat from vaping and, as it can be a little difficult to tell exactly which one is causing any particular instance, it may be that you have to try a few of them before you find the right answer.
To get the best results and save you as much wasted effort as possible, we encourage you to start with the smaller and easier solutions, only escalating as it becomes necessary to do so.
Let’s start with the easy stuff. First of all, make sure to check your air intake and tip for any dust or debris, as this may be coming up with your cloud and causing irritation.
At the same time, it’s always a good idea to stay well hydrated while you vape, making sure your throat doesn’t dry out by drinking plenty of water between your hits.
Likewise, if you’re a recovering smoker and you believe that your sore throat could be the result of nicotine withdrawal, generally living a healthy lifestyle can help to improve your condition.
Making sure you get lots of exercise, sufficient sleep and maintain a good diet as well as hydration can all help to lessen the effects of nicotine withdrawal.
If you’re positive that it’s nicotine withdrawal that’s causing this sore throat, try switching to an e-liquid with a higher concentration of nicotine, but be aware that this will just as likely cause further irritation if it turns out that Smoker’s Flu is not the cause.
Trying a different method of vaping can also be helpful, as certain vaping styles will reduce the impact on your throat.
Depending on what you’re suited to, a 'Mouth-to-Lung' or 'Direct-to-Lung' technique could alleviate some of the more irritating effects on your throat.
In the same vein, being more gradual with your hits and taking longer breaks between them can sometimes be enough to give your throat time to recover and adjust.
As the final easy-fix, always make sure your tank is sufficiently full when you vape. A dry-hit will irritate a throat even further, both with the excess heat and lack of vapour.
For the same reason, always check that your coil is fully operational and, if possible, try reducing the power output a little to give it that smoother, more gradual hit.
As for the slightly more expensive options, you might want to consider switching e-liquids if your current one continually leaves you with a sore throat.
If you believe you could be having a reaction to one of the flavourings in your e-liquid try one with less flavour, something like menthol rather than the more complex dessert or tobacco flavours.
If you believe it could be the high nicotine content try switching to a non-nicotine e-liquid. If you suspect that it’s the propylene glycol content, try an e-liquid that is more heavily based in vegetable glycerin.
Some industry experts suggest that a 7:3 ratio of propylene glycol to vegetable glycerin is the ideal balance, but like everything else so much depends on personal taste.
You may have to make a few different tries until you find what works for you best.
Last of all, there’s a chance you may have a minor nickel allergy.
Many coils use nickel as a primary component in their construction, so vaping with a nickel-based coil can often trigger a previously unknown allergic reaction.
In particular, a coil type referred to as Ni80 or Nichrome has one of the heaviest nickel contents in market circulation.
If you believe that this could be the cause of your sore throat from vaping, try switching to a coil made from Kanthal or stainless steel.
Although these coils still may contain trace amounts of nickel, for the vast majority of people it is too small a concentration to trigger an allergic reaction.
Getting a sore throat from vaping can be a sign of something more serious, but most of the time it’s the same as getting a sore throat from smoking, drinking, a cold or any number of other causes.
A minor irritation can be annoying, but thankfully there are a multitude of ways we can address a sore throat from vaping.
Staying hydrated and vaping a little less often is always step number one, as this will solve 90% of cases. Beyond this, if it’s just a reaction to a new vape or a new liquid you can usually treat it the same way as any other sore throat.
Warm teas, honey and plenty of other conventional remedies will help alleviate the worst of the irritation whilst your body adjusts.
You should always be watching out for certain kinds of sore throat from vaping; in particular a persistent soreness, swelling and difficulty breathing, which can all be signs of a far more serious underlying issue.
If you ever feel like you’re developing these kinds of reactions, we urge you to seek medical advice.
Aside from these serious concerns, the key is to be patient. An initial sore throat is something plenty of beginners experience, not to mention something that can always come back when you change up e-liquids or start out a new vape.
At the same time, you should always take whatever steps to can to resolve these issues, starting with the easier options before working up to the more serious changing of coils or e-liquids if it persists.
It’s always good to be aware of things like nicotine concentration, PG:VG ratios and a potential nickel allergy, as these can be the underlying causes that people tend to overlook.
Last of all, properly using and maintaining your vape is the best way to get the most out of it, so always make sure you’re vape is in working order and be careful not to dry-hit.
If you keep all this in mind, with a bit of luck your sore throat from vaping will soon be a thing of the past.