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