Why Does Vaping Make Me Cough?

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Why does vaping make me cough?

The transition from smoking to vaping e-liquid usually occurs when the user wants to escape the negative impacts of smoking. Yet the expression “vaping makes me cough” is not unheard of.

So, why do so many people report that vaping makes them cough? Every vaper has experienced this predicament at one point or another. You grab your vapouriser. You take a drag. You expect blissful relief. Relaxation with a cool, calming hit. But as you know, it doesn’t always go down so smoothly…

Firstly, you’re met with a little tickle as the vapour hits, followed by a harsh snag, all rounded off with an inexplicable fluctuation in your throat that erupts into an uncontrollable cough. So… “Why does vaping make me cough?”

You’ve asked, and we at Orange County CBD are here to answer. Read on below where we discuss the latest advice when it comes to vaping, our own expertise on the topic and break down the science, so you don’t have to.

Man smoking CBD E-liquid


It’s all down to the recipe: most e-liquids contain Propylene Glycol (PG) and Vegetable Glycerine (VG). Many people find e-liquid with a lower strength of nicotine, a smoother nic salt e-liquid or a higher percentage of VG can be gentler on the throat.

Whether you’re using a nicotine or CBD vape juice, it’s of equal importance to recognise the potential risks and the preventative measures to put in place when inhaling any substance.

If you have any pre-existing respiratory conditions please act with caution and consider your options before deciding to vape. A likely reason behind “vaper’s cough” is the synthetic compound Propylene Glycol, a primary ingredient in most e-liquids.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has classified Propylene Glycol as an additive that is safe to consume, so don’t worry!

This chemical is often used in cosmetics, medicine, and food products. Even so, a side effect of Propylene Glycol is coughing, which can be experienced whilst vaping e-liquid.

Roughly 8% of the population is sensitive to the substance in one way or another. If you are allergic to PG, your throat can become irritated, which is something to bear in mind.

The most serious cases of PG sensitivity are estimated to affect 1 in 100 vapers. One survey supported this, with 21.7% reporting a cough from vaping and 27.8% reporting a dry or sore throat.

These symptoms did not persist for the vast majority; out of these vapers, 39.6% were symptomatic for less than a week, and 75% were symptomless within a month.

Aside from PG sensitivity, some other reasons behind the infamous ‘vaper’s cough’ may include:

  • High nicotine levels
  • Low-quality vape juice
  • The strength is too high
  • Impaired ciliary beat frequency (as vaping shortens cilia length)


Vaping Techniques

Additionally, you may find benefit in experimenting with different vaping techniques, until you find which one is best suited to you. These can include:



The MTL inhale technique is ideal when using smaller vapes with high resistance coils, using high nicotine e-liquid.

Regardless of the size of the vaping device, taking a drag should feel like sucking air through a tight straw. This form of vaping emulates the sensation ex-smokers crave.

The airflow density is almost identical to that of a cigarette, therefore is often the transitioning vaper’s device of choice.

How to MTL vape:

  • Gently pull vapour into your mouth for just a few seconds
  • Hold the vapour in your closed mouth for a couple more seconds
  • Open your mouth, breathe the vapour into your lungs
  • Exhale the vapour from your lungs
Man coughing from vaping

Direct Lung

The DL hit is suitable for larger vapes with low resistance coils, using low nicotine e-liquid. When taking a drag from one of these, you’ll realise a much greater volume of vapor is released. Although more vapour is inhaled, it can feel much smoother due to the low content of nicotine.

How to DL vape:

  • Quickly inhale the vapour directly to the lungs
  • Exhale vapour almost immediately

Some further advice to reduce the chance of vaping making you cough:

  • Change your inhale speed
  • Change your exhale speed
  • Using e-liquid with a lower Propylene Glycol content


Smoking vs Vaping

Some new vapers, who have converted from smoking, are also thought to experience vaping making them cough.

They don’t initially realise that smoking and vaping technique is different, but once this knowledge is understood, you’ll be putting a nail in the coughin’.

If you adjust the way you inhale, you’ll be able to get the most out of your e-liquid. Smokers apply a direct to lung inhalation as a norm, while when vaping, this is likely to cause coughing, irritation, and potential soreness.

In addition, tobacco smoke does not have this same immediate impact, as it contains anaesthetics designed to reduce irritation in the throat, whereas vapor does not.

Even so, the omission of tobacco and tar from your lifestyle still has major health benefits and you’ll be sure to reap the rewards.

There are no smoke and mirrors here and we try to present the facts to you as they are. Grab your vape kit, follow our lead and you’ll “tank” us later.


Key Takeaways

Thanks for reading this article! We hope you enjoyed, and it has answered any impending questions you may have had.

Although we do not suggest there are any health benefits associated with vaping, it’s our imperative to ensure that when you do decide to vape, you do so as safely as possible.

To recap, whether vaping makes you cough or not generally depends on:

And the main reason behind the famous ‘vaper’s cough’ is the synthetic compound Propylene Glycol - found in most vape juices.

Follow this guidance and you’ll be smooth sailing all the way to cloud nine in no time.

Do you have your own opinion on how or when vaping makes you cough? Do you agree or disagree with the suggestions made here? Has our advice improved your vaping experience?

We’re here to help, so please get in touch to share your thoughts, opinions, and ideas. We’ll ensure to get back to you as quickly as possible.


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