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Symptoms you may experience when you start using electronic cigarettes

Date Posted: January 30, 2012

When you begin using electronic cigarettes as a tobacco alternative, it’s common to experience symptoms as your body reacts, adapts to the changes and rids itself of the chemicals present in tobacco smoke. Some symptoms will come and go over a period of a few days. Most are gone within a few weeks and everyone’s experience is different.

It is important to know about and properly attribute symptoms to tobacco withdrawal as these symptoms are widely known, reported and studied. Symptoms experienced by e-cigarette use are most commonly the result of this process and experienced by anyone  ridding their system of tobacco.

Some people do experience symptoms from e-cigarettes most commonly due to allergies of ingredient compounds and throat irritation. Those will be covered in a separate article.

The effects of nicotine withdrawal are mitigated if you are using nicotine-containing cartridges for your electronic cigarette, but due all of the tar, carcinogens and other chemicals in tobacco smoke and the years of buildup, some of these symptoms may still occur.

It is important to remember that your body is undergoing a change. Usually, symptoms that result from the switch to e-cigarettes are a response to that change and go away eventually, usually within a week or so. If you experience severe or prolonged symptoms, consult your doctor.

Coughing , congestion, phlegm, sputum and throat clearing

These are the most common symptoms you may experience as you transition away from tobacco smoking. The amount of time you will experience them depends on how heavy a smoker you were.

Coughing is most commonly caused by the cilia that line your lungs cleaning out the tar and mucus. Your body is in the process of cleaning out all of the junk coating the surface of your tissues and will cough it up in the form of phlegm. It’s not pretty, but think of it as a makeover on the inside. This is a good thing.

Studies have shown that this process begins within a few days. You will most likely experience a morning cough for about a week, and clearing for up to a month. Recommendation: Consume lots of water to help this process along. For sinus congestion, take an over-the-counter medication until it dissipates.

Hoarseness

Related to the coughing and throat clearing process above, all of that tissue regeneration can give you a froggy-sounding voice.  Recommendation: Suck on throat lozenges and drink lots of water to sooth your throat.

Increased instances of the common cold

Studies have shown that colds are more prevalent during this period (see reference). As your body is ridding itself of toxins and adapting to change, your immune system is working overtime. Recommendation: Take it easy, drink lots of water and take vitamins to help your body along.

Acne

Also known as the “quit zits”, mild breakouts are a common occurrence. They are the result of the body releasing toxins and more prevalent with those who experienced breakouts at a young age. This will pass as your body adjusts.

Mouth Ulcers

A scientifically studied symptom that can occur when you quit tobacco, mouth ulcers are small legions on the roof of your mouth, gums and the inside of your cheeks (see reference). Smoke is an irritant and your gums and mouth tissues build up a “crust” over time. As your body sloughs off and replaces damaged tissue with new, healthy tissue, these small lesions may develop.

Recommendation: Rinse your mouth often with water to help control irritation and promote healing.

Hiccups

This annoying symptom has been documented in the use of cessation aids like nicotine gums as people swallow nicotine into their stomach. While not damaging, it can be very annoying.

This may also occur with e-cigarettes if you hold the vapor in your mouth and the nicotine finds its way into your saliva. Recommendation: To prevent this, avoid holding the vapor in your mouth and breathe it in instead.

Heartburn

Heartburn or acid reflux symptoms can be attributed to quitting smoking, but it can also be caused by too much nicotine. Recommendation: Try lowering your nicotine strength. If the problem persists for over a week, consult your doctor.

Headaches, Nausea, Shaking

When switching to e-cigs, you are most likely experiencing some change in your nicotine consumption. It may be more or less than your body is accustomed to. This fluctuation can cause these symptoms which shouldn’t last more than a few days. Recommendation: Try different nicotine strengths until you settle into one that suits your needs and make adjustments slowly.

Insomnia and dreams

Your body is going through changes and this life change also can affect you psychologically. Many people find an increased sensitivity to caffeine during this time. Recommendation: Try drinking less coffee and tea or make them weaker until the sleeplessness subsides.

Dizziness

Switching away from tobacco can cause dizziness as your circulation increases. Your brain is getting more oxygen! This should only last for a brief period of time until you adjust.

A second cause of dizziness can be attributed to too much nicotine from your e-cigarette. If you find yourself puffing on it all day, you may need to alternate between high and low nicotine strengths. Or you may be using a nicotine strength that is too high for you. If the problem persists, consult your doctor.

Itching, tingling, prickling

Have patience. These symptoms (if mild) are only due to increased circulation. They should disappear in a few weeks.

Changing sense of taste

As your body rids itself of tar, chemicals and tissue buildup, you will notice an increased ability to taste and smell. Things that were good before may taste too salty or too strong and foods your previously found bland may all the sudden taste delicious. This holds true to your cartridges flavors. You may suddenly dislike your favorite flavor and enjoy flavors you found awful the first time around! This is an ongoing process.

Another change in taste can occur if you use menthol cartridges heavily. The properties in menthol can dull your sense of taste temporarily; giving you something called “menthol mouth”.  This can make your carts seem tasteless. Recommendation: If your experience this, stop using menthol for a little while until your taste buds recover. Cough drops have also been reported to help.

Muscle cramps, spasms and aches

As more oxygen enters your system and circulation improves, you may experience some aches and pains. This is a normal part of flushing out your system and regeneration after you stop smoking tobacco.

It can also be a symptom of dehydration. E-cig ingredients can have a drying effect on your mouth and body. Drink lots of water to counteract any dehydration.

Gas

This may last a few weeks. Recommended: Stay away from gassy foods like beans, cabbage and broccoli.

Diarrhea

You may experience this when you stop using tobacco, but it could also be intolerance to PG (propylene glycol). Try switching to a VG (vegetable glycerin) based

References:

41 thoughts on “Symptoms you may experience when you start using electronic cigarettes”

  1. Kim says:

    I started vaping 6 weeks ago with light carts. I immediately fell in love! Unfortunately, though, I’ve experienced several of these symptoms. My initial heartburn experience was so severe, I actually smoke a traditional cig and it went away immediately. Once I realized it was a withdrawal symptom, I was able to just power through, though I still get it a few times a week. The thing that really bothers me is that I got a bad sinus infection two weeks ago, then as soon as I was better, I got a terrible cold! I’m just getting over that so here’s hoping these are temporary, I don’t want to go back! :) Keep on truckin’!

    1. v2_nut says:

      I thought it was my imagination, but your findings validated my own experience. I vape too often (I’ve recognized this and cut back significantly – trying to vape only as often as I used to smoke a cigarette – vape and put it down for a while!)
      But the heartburn and acid reflux at night was horrible, and I found that a few puffs off of a normal tobacco cigarette made the acid reflux disappear within a few minutes and I could go back to sleep.
      As i said, I know it is caused by vaping all the time, so putting it down after a few puffs on the V2 ecig has helped it 100%.
      If you run into that problem though, and it is disgusting enough to wake you out of a sound sleep, take a few puffs on a nasty analog cig and the reflux will disappear!!
      Hope this helps someone. :o)

  2. Jordan says:

    Thanks v2 i got my v2 e-cig about 4 days ago, and i have been feeling heartburn quite a bit lately, glad to know that its all part of the norm and ill be fine :)

  3. Ben says:

    I keep having to clear my throat. I enjoy vaping and don’t smoke cigs while doing it without any problems EXCEPT the throat clearing. I have quit cigs before with the patch and did really well for a year and went back. I never had such a problem with throat congestion before. So this time when I quit with the V2 I had throat trouble and I went back to cigs. The throat clearing went away. I even tried using spitless tobacco instead and also no throat clearing. So after a bit I went back to v2 (because I do like it) and after a week my throat seems congested ALL the time. It’s interfering with conversation and people keep asking if I’m coming down with something. I am going to try Veg. P. style liquid before I give up on v2, but I am not happy about this. If I can’t use these products I have wasted SO much money on them… Like I said this has never happened before with other methods of quitting, but has come up TWICE when quitting with v2.

  4. kathynap6 says:

    i got my v2 three weeks ago love it have not even had the urge to smoke cigaretts had diahria the first few days but can breath alot better i have copd and bad smokers cough since i started vaping my cough is gone

  5. Kat says:

    I have been using v2 for about a week now and I have had maybe 2 real cigs since then but none in the last 2 days. I have not been coughing buy I have a really bad soar throat has anyone else experienced this.

  6. raymond says:

    I started vaping a month ago, though im a bit hesitant because of the side effects however after tons of researching i found out that vaping has nothing to do with the syndrome i am experiencing. I’ve been smoking for 18 yrs and im so blessed that for a month i never touched a normal cigarette.

  7. debbie boyd says:

    i have been a heavy smoker for about 45 yrs now, and could not even imagime goin half a day with out a cig. there was no way. well both my parents died do to cig smokeing, my sisters on a neblizer allmost constandly, and both my sister and brother have been hoslized, do to not being able to breath. i have tryed several types of e-cigs, and no way did they satisfied me. so i started doin my home work, and found v-2. i haven,t had a cig since feb 8th now. no one can believe it. but i,am still haveing sinus prolems, and its better, but still haveing to spit out mucus. i did have the heart burn, and diarrera for a while. but my main concern is the sinus,s still cloged up, and the mucus prolem. is any one ealse goin thur this? and how long to its gone? thanks.

    1. VixenB says:

      This could be completely normal. It can take over a month for your body to fully rid itself of the toxins. However, the heartburn – if it’s reflux – could send acid into your sinus cavities (this happens to me). Sometimes it’s just really annoying, but it is possible that you have a sinus infection as the acid & mucus could cause bacteria buildup. I’d check with your doctor – and look into mucinex + Neti pot rinses & drinking lots of water. I prefer xylitol packets (vitamin shoppe) for my sinus rinses because of its potent anti bacterial properties. It’s also a natural remedy. You want to get all the unnatural stuff out of your body

    2. Drea says:

      I just wrote about this in response to someone else, its a few comments up from yours.
      I am having the same issues as you and my only relief has been Afrin Severe congestion relief. Aside from rotating off e cigs to nicorette lozenges and SNUS I did take antibiotics due to the sinusitis but issues have come back again. I wash the e cig tip often and change out the coils frequently and recently changed the whole tank and it made no difference but perhaps I already had a new sinus infection brewing prior to the change. Back to the dr again I guess.
      Oh I thought to mention, I had a bad reaction to a certain antibiotic which I never had when I was a smoker. I read there are possible interactions with propolyne glyclol in e cigs and Zithromax etc

  8. Ellen says:

    I started vaping about a year and a half ago. My daughter and her husband got these for me because she was gonna have a baby and didn’t want me to smoke around the baby. I am 50 years old and have been smoking since I was around 11 or 12 years old, and never thought I would stop. When I tried these I liked these my daughter threw away my pack of cigarettes and I have not had one since. I love these things and will never go back to smoking cigarettes. Thank you so much!

  9. Christena Mckaskle says:

    I can across this blog while I was researching whether I can use my e-cig on my flight from the main land to Maui in June. I’m glad I found out beforehand that I can’t….BUT I find it very interesting that the e-cig’s are allowed in the airports! Soooo the airport staff is ok with explaining to anyone that may ask “What is that person smoking or doing ect. at the airport but NOT on the airplane? Hmmm…..strange!!!!

  10. Amy says:

    My friend has never smoked a regular cigg. In his life. A month ago he started smoking an e cigg. And is having all of these symptoms. Hmmmmmm?????

    1. Chue says:

      Really? That’s strange… your friend’s body is probably not use to the E cigg or something.

    2. George says:

      I don’t believe you for one minute. I also think you’re making this up.

    3. Amy's Friend says:

      Amy, tell your friend to try smoking regular cigarettes for awhile and see if the symptoms go away. I had a friend that did the same thing, started using E-Cigs and didn’t smoke prior and when he tried to stop the e-cigg’s he couldn’t and had to start smoking..Strange I know..He’s using the nicotine gum currently, trying to quit altogether….

      1. Sue Townsend says:

        BS, Amysfriend! Do not ever suggest someone try smoking a cigarette. Amy , you tell him to just quit vaping before he gets hooked.

    4. Zach says:

      Well it’s probably the nicotine… Some of these effects are from quitting/starting/upping/downing doses of nicotine..

  11. luke says:

    Has anyone been experiencing Hives as a result of Using liquid or possibly withdrawal from analog? I’ve switched to some less potent forms of Vapor in the past and didn’t have much problem, but i also never quit completely from analog. this time (i don’t Know if it is related) i Developed a severe case of hives lasting for over a month now. I’ve never had them before. i’m also wondering the extent of the symptoms of intolerance to PG. if ANYONE has any info i’d love to hear from you. this is making my life miserable and I’ve had to Quit vaping to see if that’s where the reaction is coming from. i don’t want to smoke but i want even less to have these maddening hives.

    1. Tina says:

      I have just started the whole e-cig cycle. Loving it, gave up the real cigs, for about a month and a half. Got the sinus infection, and now severe itching all over body, palms, soles of feet, everywhere. Makes me want to go back to real cigs, but don’t want too because of the health issues. Itching for about a week, will see if subsides, otherwise, not sure what I may resort to. If you have any answers, let me know.

  12. Kyle says:

    I was smoking a pack a day for about five years and a friend bought me the Ecigg for my birthday. I had no intentions if quitting but after trying out V2 I have no interest in tobacco anymore. #TeamVapor

  13. Paul says:

    Luke I ran into a gal that had the same thing at an e cig shop!
    She said it was an allergy to PG liquid, she would get hives
    On her tummy and back. Switch to VG liquid and be aware
    That most flavors have PG in them but you can find pue VG
    Flavors online. Now if I can just figure out why I still get mouth Sores when I’m using pure VG I’ll be set! Good luck

  14. ella t says:

    if you were on antibiotics, some of them can cause this taste in your mouth.

  15. ad says:

    I’ve been a smoker for 24 years, now vaping for 2-3 weeks.
    it seems my lungs are not really getting better! just road my bike and my heart rate and breathing seemed the same if not worse! I’m thinking I’m vaping a little to much? or its to soon off the analogs to notice??

  16. Cindy Sparks says:

    I had quit with patches before but became allergic to them, why is it then that I never had the coughing, and many of those symptoms as stated coughing badly and burning in my lungs as I have with the vapor cig? If it the lungs clearing up I should have had those symptoms anytime I quit smoking? I have tried 3 brands an still coughing, gassy and lots of throat clearing that I did not have while smoking regular cigs.

  17. Ozzie says:

    I’ve smoked for 30 years and I’ve had 4 quit attempts shortest 3 months and longest 15 months. On every quit the symtoms listed on this webpage were very accurate even had some additional ones not listed here. I’m on V2 ecigs for this quit and I’m having exact same symtoms occur same as all my other quits. You have no idea how many bad things cigs really have and how they are destroying your body.. When you stop smoking your body will react in many many ways… DONT GO BACK.. YOU ARE ONLY LOOKING FOR EXCUSES TO START SMOKING AGAIN.. TOUGH IT OUT! This product has made it one of the easiest quits Ive ever had..

  18. Mike says:

    I have used dip for over 40 years. I know it was stupid. I got my new Vape machine yesterday. I got 12% nicotine as recommended at the Vape store. Im new to this so every time I craved a dip I took a vape. Probably over did it. I got the indigestion, sore throat, some coughing and some diarrhea. I think VG only would be better for me and less vape per day. All in all I’ve had one dip in 24 hours when before I had one every hour of every minute. Got the throat lump going on as well. We will see but I think most of these issues will go away. I have to try anyway to off this tobacco.

  19. Pammie says:

    I am using e-cig brand. I have been vaping for almost 3 weeks. I didn’t have any of these symptoms at all. No lump in throat, no sinus infection, no diarrhea. A lot of people in Daytona are using these now. None of these symptoms…. Hmm?

  20. Alfian says:

    I’ve noticed that my gums get weaker. They bleed easier. However, this is when I used blends from my own country. When I switched to USA made blends, no more bleeding gums…

  21. Jackie says:

    Been having the same problem for 2 weeks. Guess I’ll try the VG only and cross my fingers. At least now I have an idea of what is causing this!

  22. Keith says:

    Glad to know I’m not the only one having *ahem*interesting bowel movements*ahem* since I started. Thanks for clearing this side effect up for me. Will definitely be switching to VG.

  23. Ed Hall says:

    When I first started vaping I just experienced a little bit of nausea but I think that was because of the way that I was using it and how often I was using it. Much better now and better alternative to cigarettes!

  24. Vincent says:

    So thankful I found this. The itching and cramping was driving me nuts, I thought it was something else and that something might be seriously wrong. Great to know it will eventually go away! Thank you so much!

  25. karen says:

    I was visiting family in England and decided to quit.I purchased the Vapestick from Tesco, I love it. When I got back to Canada I tried to get similar, only to be told that the UK are 4 years ahead of Canada in the e cig market. Luckily, I have enough to keep me going until I go home again. I am glad I saw this site, I am having symptoms of shakiness after 10 days of e cig use. I am determined. though, that I will not go back to smoking analogs.. Thanks for this information

  26. RW says:

    I switched on Oct. 19, 2013 and I haven’t smoked since. I was a pack to a pack and a half a day smoker for more than twenty years. When I switched I had issues with coughing but the worst part was the mucus. I was used to a certain amount of mucus as a smoker but I was coughing up a lot of it and it was getting thinner and thinner, almost like water towards the end. I thought maybe the water vapor was condensing in my lungs or something but after about a few weeks the coughing calmed down a lot and after about two months I was no longer coughing or coughing anything up. It’s been seven months and I feel better, sleep better, taste better (in more ways than one) and smell better. The only lingering side effect is hiccups. I’ve always gotten them every now and then but since I started vaping I get them once or twice a week. That’s a small price to pay though to get away from cigarettes. And I’m spending about half as much on vaping as I did on smoking.

  27. "Digital" Don says:

    I’m 60 years old and have been smoking analogs since I was 17 years old, despite having a heart attack at age 46. I thought I would never escape the clutches of tobacco, so when I was introduced to vaping I figured I didn’t have anything to lose (although I thought I wouldn’t succeed either). Much to my great surprise and even greater joy, after going thru the “adjustment period” many other commenters are describing, I have no craving for analogs at all anymore. In fact, I’m so enthusiastic about my experience that I’ve decided to become a distributor and spread the word to all of the smokers I know, while helping them save money (and possibly improve their health) AND maybe even earn a few bucks myself in the process.

    (By the way – my wife is ecstatic that I’m not stinking up the place with tobacco smoke anymore, and that I’m spending MUCH less on my vaping supplies than I ever did on my “analog” habit.)

  28. carrie says:

    Beware!!! I hope you all know that we can no longer use vapor cigs on trains, in restaurants, and they are now treating vapor like real tobacco. They have put the same restrictions on ecigs as they have for real cigs. It has taken off like crazy in every state now. I use to be able to use them on a train, but I can’t now. This freedom has been taken away too. Non-smokers are telling everyone that these are just as bad as real tobacco. The legislators are believing the hype, and this freedom is gone. Are the companies making the vapor cigs doing anything to get our freedom back? Are they supplying the information needed to prove that these are not harmful around others? So far they have not shown anything, and we have lost. We try to quit something harmful, and we are chastised for this too. I hope someone from these companies will fight for us.
    Sincerely,
    Very Frustrated

  29. carrie says:

    Does anyone out there know how we can get this freedom back? I have written letters to my legislators, but they really don’t care. We have lost once again. No vapor AT ALL. Same restrictions now as real cigarettes. I hope some of you will try to change this. I did what I could, but we need the corporations to help. I guess they need to give up a lot of money to various politicians to get their product back in public, and let them see evidence that it is not harmful to others around us. I can’t believe that some people are so ignorant to think that ecigs are just as bad as real cigarettes. It is crazy. All states are starting to ban them, just like real cigs.

  30. Steve says:

    I was a smoker for 23 years. I have been vaping for two weeks now and I am getting the heartburn every day.

    Still I have no desire to go back to cigarettes. Thank you V2!

    The Pro Series 3 is amazing!

  31. Colleen says:

    I started smoking cig about a year ago when I quit smoking.i like them.the only problem I have is the congestion . My doctor said I sounded congested. But I don’t have a cold or anything and continue smoking vcig .so I got sick and did not smoke the vcig and it want away.then I got better started smoking them again and the congestion came back.but I still smoke them.no going back to regular cig agine.

  32. Jan says:

    I started on E-cigs about 3 weeks ago….I started feeling shaky inside my whole body during the last week….(No physical shaking)…..been smoking regular cigs for 30 years, only concern I have is the shaking feeling, I should also mention that I get my smoke-juice from a pakistani store, with NO indication of nicotine strength on it, although the product and packaging seems real….I should mention he has been doing bisiness for a while now, and no-one has died of his products…..can I keep buying there, or should I shop online? I live inPretoria, South-Africa….Thanx everyone. I’m 46 now….

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