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Why Do Vape Headaches Occur?

Posted by David on

While there are certainly many benefits to vaping including the most obvious and significant one of being a better alternative to smoking harmful cigarettes, there are some people who have reported headaches as a side effect. Not everyone will get headaches from vaping, but it’s an issue you may want to know a little about if you’re new to it or if you experience headaches from it and want to know how to treat them.


Causes of Vape Headaches

There are a few factors which may cause vape headaches:

The first one is the level of nicotine. Nicotine constricts your blood vessels and affects your autonomic nervous system which in turn can cause headaches. Nicotine is also a mild stimulant which may cause dizziness and full body rushes if you are not used to it. If you have smoked cigarettes, the e-liquid will probably not be that noticeable to you unless you are using a particularly high level of nicotine when vaping.

For cigarette smokers, each cigarette contains about 1mg of nicotine, so if you smoke a pack a day then you would be taking in approximately 20mg of nicotine. E-liquids can vary in the amount of nicotine they contain. Additionally, choosing a juice that has a lower level of nicotine than that of cigarettes is ideal for previous smokers.

Another possible cause of headaches for some people is propylene glycol (PG). This is an organic compound and is one of the four ingredients used in e-liquid. It has the unique property of turning into vapor when heated which allows it to be inhaled. PG draws water from its environment and so it can have a drying effect which can cause headaches. The headaches due to PG are caused by dehydration but there have been some cases of sensitivity to propylene glycol which can cause not only headaches but also skin irritation, like rashes, as well as dry mouth.

Lastly, your vaping choices may also cause headaches. That is, the way you vape and the device you use could be the problem. Drawing, or pulling on your unit may cause an inhalation strain that can give you a headache and sometimes cause throat irritation. The devices out there for the most part have differing levels of draw. For instance, if you use an e-cigarette, you may have to draw harder to get a hit versus using a MOD or APV which provide clouds with relative ease.

How to Prevent Vape Headaches

Preventing or treating headaches that could be caused by vaping may simply require a minor adjustment to your vaping style, device or juice. If the headaches might be caused by nicotine, the easiest solution is to cut back on the nicotine level. All e-liquid bottles and of course on the site, show the levels of nicotine. Just select one that’s appropriate for you. As mentioned, a former smoker should ideally choose a nicotine level that’s equal to, or lower than, their previous nicotine consumption with cigarettes while someone who is brand new to vaping should opt for a very low nicotine level since the body will have to get adjusted to the nicotine.

If a reaction to propylene glycol is the suspected cause of headaches, there are a few possible solutions.

  • Stop using the PG juice entirely. If your headaches disappear then you will know this is the cause.
  • Choose an e-juice or pod cartridge that contains a mixture of both PG and VG (vegetable glycerine) at a 50/50 ratio or choose the e-liquid which is 60% or higher in VG. VG, like PG, also turns into vapor when heated up and both are odorless and almost tasteless. PG and VG are FDA approved as safe and in fact have been used for decades in food, pet foods, toiletries, and makeup. They do have distinct differences when used in tanks and how they saturate in the coils, especially when the vapor hits the throat. This is known as a “throat hit” and happens with liquids that have a higher PG ratio. On that flip side, VG tends to produce clouds that are thicker and larger than those produced by PG juices. You can experiment a little with either to determine the right balance for you.
  • Finally, making some simple changes to your method of draw can reduce inhalation strain and experimenting with various types of devices can also reduce the chance of getting headaches.

This industry is becoming more diverse with its options for vaping and there are so many choices out there for people who have chosen to vape instead of smoke cigarettes. It’s important to do your research and ask questions. With the increasing popularity of vaping and the emergence of new device designs, you should be able to find one that works for you!

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