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Why Is My Throat Sore After Vaping?

25th Jan 2023

New vaper with a sore throat

Year after year the numbers increase on who picks up a vape and puts down a cigarette. There are more than four million in the UK using an e-cigarette alone. While it’s proving to be a vital smoking cessation tool, a sore throat can occur when inhaling nicotine from a cigarette or vape. For some, it might be a regular occurrence when vaping. So if your setup isn’t quite right, it could reduce the experience. Producing a ‘scratchy throat feeling’ is an unpleasant experience you’ll want to avoid. Therefore, we’ve devised a few reasons why this happens and how to fix the issue.

12 Key Reasons Why You Get a Sore Throat When Vaping

With each vaper, you’ll quickly find out there are so many different ways you can experience the inhalation of nicotine. E-liquids are one example. You can find alternative strengths, flavours, and viscosities to achieve better end results.

When paired with your vape kit, it creates a different experience every time. But when one of these factors is set up incorrectly, this leads to a sore throat - putting off some vapers.

Nobody wants a sore throat after vaping, so we’ve got a rundown below of the most common occurrences with solutions:

1) Are You Having a Withdrawal From Cigarettes?

Giving up tobacco cigarettes is a challenging task for anybody. With plenty of addictive ingredients including nicotine, how are you supposed to give up smoking and not feel withdrawal symptoms?

Many try all sorts of NRT’s such as nicotine gum, patches and sprays. But none is more effective than vaping for those suffering from withdrawals. Think about it - the action is the same, it includes nicotine at whatever level you like and more flavours to choose from. It removes that irritable feeling.

While some get a sore throat feeling when picking up a vape, it’s often the withdrawal of tobacco that causes that prickly throat initially. Lasting a few days, symptoms such as a sore and dry throat, problems with digestion and coughing should be reduced.

Remember that smoking clogs up the lungs with tar and damages the cilia, which remove excess dirt from the lungs. These naturally clean up after a few days/weeks of cutting out cigarettes.

2) Did You Pick the Wrong Nicotine Base for Your Vape Juice?

With vaping, there are now two nicotine bases -  freebase nicotine which was the first creation in e-liquids and more recently nic salts. The former leaves more of a scratchy feeling on the throat because of its higher PH level. Meanwhile, nic salts are now popular with vapers in 10mg and 20mg strengths because they’re much smoother.

Adding benzoic acid reduces the PH level and naturally improves the throat hit. Some vapers like the more intense throat hit which is similar to smoking and therefore pick freebase nicotine e-liquids. So the ball is in your court! But to reduce any sore throat issues, we recommend trying nic salts at the correct level to match your previous nicotine habits.

3) Allergic to Propylene Glycol (PG)?

The ingredients that make up the vape juice, specifically PG (propylene glycerol), are designed to soak up moisture. If you have a high level of PG in your vape juice, a word of warning is that it can dry out the delicate skin in your throat. As you pull the vapour into your mouth, the PG is soaking up all of the moisture around it.

This means that it is also pulling moisture in from your throat and giving you that sore feeling. A lower PG level e-liquid means less moisture is attracted to the vape and therefore you’re less likely to get that dryness in your mouth.

You might need to experiment with  different vape juices until you find the right level for you.

4) Is Your Nicotine Strength Too High?

One reason you might be coughing or experiencing a sore throat may be the nicotine strength. If it is too high and not matching the levels you smoked previously, that can cause an issue. We recommend keeping it at a low level initially if possible but at the very least match the amount that you smoked. A 20mg nicotine e-liquid for example matches a pack of 20 cigarettes.

For something lower you can try a 10mg nic salt or freebase nicotine vape juice. Alternatively, the lowest strengths of 6mg or 3mg are ideal for social smokers and those who have gradually cut down their e-liquid levels. It’s a case of trial and error to see which helps you prevent a sore throat the best.

5) Feeling Dehydrated?

As we said previously, vaping takes the moisture out of your mouth, causing a dry throat sensation that can lead to a cough. It can also lead to dehydration, which is the last thing you want when vaping. PG can retain water molecules, which stops your body from absorbing water when you vape.

Therefore, it’s important to drink between vape hits to keep those levels up. Otherwise, you could face symptoms like dizziness and fatigue. Rest assured that it’s only a short-term experience, especially if you drink enough fluids to ease any sore throat issues.

6) Is Your Wattage Too Powerful or Even Too Weak?

It’s not just burnt coils that will be affected if you set your vape at a wattage that’s too high. Your throat will feel the impact too! Everything needs to be matched up correctly. The coils will indicate on the side of the accessory the wattage suggested by the manufacturer who tests each one before release. Too high a wattage paired with a high amount of nicotine will burn your throat.

Don’t forget that you still need to match the nicotine levels when vaping to what you smoked previously. If you don’t get enough nicotine, that could mean withdrawal symptoms. This will in turn lead back to smoking, so it’s advised not to drop your wattage too low either.

7) MTL vs DTL - Selected the Wrong Vape Kit?

Choosing the right vaping style makes all the difference to the throat hit. MTL, abbreviated from mouth to lung, means you vape with the same technique as you would a cigarette. Keep in the mouth for a few seconds before entering the lungs. In contrast, DTL, or direct to lung, means inhaling directly to produce more vapour via more e-liquid.

For a smoother throat hit MTL, you’ll be better served with nic salts. DTL vaping is considered smoother, but works better with less nicotine, more power and creates a warmer vape. So make sure you know what technique you want to do and then pick the right e-liquid and vape kit accordingly.

8) Too Much Vaping!

If you’re new to vaping, then chances are you haven’t settled into your natural vaping rhythm. If you’ve been a smoker, then it’s likely you’re vaping as you would be smoking. Take your time drawing the vape into your mouth and hold it there for a while.

You might also need to take longer breaks between vaping. Adjust how regularly you vape until you are used to it. Your smoking style will likely be different to your vaping style.

9) Are the Additional Vape Juice Ingredients Causing Throat Irritation?

In the UK, there are only a set amount of ingredients that typically exist in vape juice. What you’ll usually see on a label is PG, VG, nicotine, sweeteners and water. Providing you’re not allergic to the first four you should be ok to vape and not suffer irritation. In the past, there have been links to other ingredients such as diacetyl, which was illegally done in the USA by some manufacturers. But it’s nothing to be concerned about in the UK as e-liquids are heavily regulated.

10) Is Your E-Liquid Flavour Not Right?

It could just be the flavour of your e-liquid is not right for you, believe it or not! Some acidic e-liquids have sharper notes for example that may be prickly on the throat. Whether it’s a tobacco flavour or a fruity flavour, sometimes that taste or additional ingredient might not sit right with you. It’s a case of trial and error to see whether a specific e-liquid creates sore throat issues.

11) Are You Creating a Dry Hit?

A dry hit is when you go to vape and receive nothing but hot air. The vape will try to pull e-liquid after you press the fire button or auto-draw and not ignite correctly - with the coil often working too fast for its own good! Always make sure you have enough e-liquid to vape to avoid a dry hit.

You can also reduce dry hits by not chain vaping. Simply turn down the voltage on your e-cigarette and take a breather between inhalations.

12) Are There Still Medical Issues Following the Steps Above?

Nicotine itself can cause all sorts of mild symptoms when smoked or vaped, such as nausea and headaches. Smoking can cause terrible illnesses such as throat cancer, which often begins with a sore throat. And yet vaping could potentially be a concern too, if a sore throat or cough persists. If you have tried all of the methods above and nothing works, we recommend speaking to a medical professional for further advice.