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Prevent coughing while vaping

How to Stop Coughing When You Vape

Coughing is one of the most common side effects of vaping, and it’s one that can completely ruin the experience. If every puff you take feels like it’s irritating the back of your throat, quitting smoking by vaping is almost impossible. You might feel like vaping just doesn’t work for you, and might be considering giving up on vaping and possibly returning to smoking. The good news is that even though this is a pretty common problem, there are a quite a few things you can do to stop coughing when you vape, and it’s definitely worth trying them out before giving up on vaping altogether.


Switch to a Lower-Nicotine E-Juice


The nicotine strength of your e-juice has a big role to play in how it feels on your throat. The higher the nicotine strength, the harsher it’s likely to feel on your throat. So if you find that vaping irritates your throat and makes you cough, try an e-juice with less nicotine. Black Note offers 0.3 % and 0.6 % nicotine, which are less likely to make you cough than our 1.2% or 1.8% strengths.


The challenge here is that some “throat hit” is generally seen as positive by recent switchers, and you obviously need nicotine to find vaping satisfying. With this in mind, the best advice is to vape the highest-nicotine e-juice you can actually enjoy.


If you can’t strike the right balance, there are things you can do to get the most nicotine possible even with a lower-strength e-juice (for example, using a higher-power e-cig), but the suggestions in the rest of the article should also help. 


Reduce Your Wattage


The more power you send to your coil, the more vapor your e-cig produces and the hotter the vapor is. You might get more impressive clouds, but both of these factors can also lead to coughing. The simple solution is to reduce your wattage setting if you have a mod, or to switch to a higher-resistance coil if you have a vape pen that doesn’t let you choose a setting. Experiment a little with different settings or atomizer heads to find one that is still satisfying but makes things easier on your throat.


Switch to a Lower-PG E-Juice


Although this is less important than your nicotine level for most vapers, higher-PG juices can lead to coughing for some vapers. This is especially likely if your e-juice has more than 60% PG, but e-liquids like that aren’t common these days. In general, VG is smoother on your throat than PG, so higher-VG e-liquids (or ones that are at least 50/50 like Black Note’s juices) are less likely to make you cough.


Some vapers are also sensitive to PG or even allergic to it. True allergies are very rare, but sensitivity is more common and still very unpleasant. If you might be sensitive or allergic, the best advice is to switch to a liquid with 70% or more VG.


Change Your Airflow Setting


One of the other major factors that can lead to coughing is your airflow setting. Most modern tanks have adjustable airflow, and this is partly because personal preference plays a big role in how much airflow you like. If you have your airflow set too low for your preferences or your current wattage setting, you might try to inhale too sharply to get more vapor or end up with vapor that’s too hot. If your airflow is set too high, you could inhale more vapor than you were expecting and end up coughing as it rushes into your lungs before you were expecting it.


Check the airflow slot on your tank or atomizer and note how open it is. If most of the slot is covered up, try opening it a little and vape again. If it’s all the way open, turn it down and try it out. For just-switching smokers, your airflow being too open is the most likely problem. If you close off most of the airflow slot so that the opening is almost circular, then the draw will be quite cigarette-like and will be less likely to make you cough. On the other hand, if you’ve been vaping for a while and are using a high-power device, you’ll end up with hot vapor unless you open up the airflow or reduce your wattage setting.


As always, the key is to experiment and find what works for you.


Change Your Inhalation Style


This is closely related to airflow, but you might not be inhaling in the best way for your tank, wattage and airflow setting. Smokers tend to inhale “mouth to lung” (MTL), which means you take some vapor or smoke into your mouth with one inhale, and then inhale again to take it down into your lungs. Longer-term vapers tend to inhale “direct to lung” which is just what it sounds like: a one-step process where you bring the vapor straight down into your lungs.


MTL devices tend to use higher-resistance coils and run at lower wattages, with a more restricted airflow. If you try to direct to lung inhale through one of a device like this, you’ll probably end up coughing.


Direct to lung devices tend to have lower-resistance (often sub ohm) coils, run at higher wattages and have more open airflow. MTL inhales don’t work as well on these devices (it’s hard to keep all the vapor in your mouth without some going down to your lungs), and this can lead to coughing as well.


If you’re having issues with coughing, try switching to the other inhalation style or adjusting your airflow (as in the previous point) to compensate.


Change Your E-Liquid Flavor


Although this is a less common reason for coughing, you might be having issues because of the specific flavor of e-liquid you’re vaping. I don’t usually cough when I vape, but there are liquids that I’ve tried that have made me cough a lot more. Sharp, citrusy fruity flavors and strong menthols may have this effect for me and many other vapers, but this might not be the case for you.


However, in general, switching to a tobacco flavor or a sweeter, dessert-like flavor will probably improve things. From Black Note’s line-up, Prelude is soft on the throat and slightly sweet, making it a great choice if many flavors make you cough.


Give it Time if You’ve Recently Quit Smoking


Finally, there is a more positive reason you may be coughing. When you smoke, it damages the cilia (which are like little hairs) on the back of your throat. This is one of the reasons smokers get mucus-heavy coughs – the cilia are there to clear mucus, and when they’re damaged, you get a build-up of mucus. Fortunately, when you stop smoking, they start to repair, but unfortunately, you may end up with a cough as the cilia regain their functioning.


This means that your “vapers’ cough” might be more to do with quitting smoking than starting to vape. If you’re still coughing after trying the other suggestions in this post but have recently quit smoking, this is likely to be the cause. The best advice is to see if your symptoms improve with time. Some people also need time to get used to the sensation of vaping, and if this is the case with you things will probably get better with time too.


Coughing is Annoying, But Can Be Fixed


There are some people who cough when they vape no matter what, but user surveys suggest that the problem gets much better with time (ordinarily disappearing entirely) for most vapers. Things will improve as you get used to vaping, try new setups, try out different inhalation styles and generally find the way for vaping to work best for you. Even if you feel like you will never be able to vape without coughing, it will probably get better with time. Try out the tips in this post, combine any that work for you and ignore any that don’t. It’ll still take a bit of trial and error, but it’s well worth it if it helps you avoid smoking.

Lee Johnson is a writer and vaper from the UK. He started vaping in 2012, and since then has contributed to E-Cigarette Reviewed, E-Cigarette Direct’s Ashtray Blog and Vaping360. He strongly believes smokers need accurate information about vaping and other reduced-harm alternatives to smoking. He has a degree in physics from the Open University and a passion for all forms of science.

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