Why Vaping Causes a Sore Throat

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Vaping is inhaling vaporized liquid through an electronic cigarette that may or may not contain the stimulant nicotine. Unlike smoking, substances are not burned, so there is no smoke. Even without smoke, vaping can still lead to a sore throat, among other health concerns.

Vaping has been associated with lung injuries and deaths. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends avoiding vaping products and e-cigarettes that contain tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, which is the main compound in cannabis that causes the high. The CDC also recommends that vitamin E acetate should not be added to any e-cigarette or vaping, product.

On June 23, 2022, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned the authorization to sell Juul products, which are used for vaping. And on June 24, 2022, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit entered a temporary administrative stay of the marketing denial order for Juul Labs Inc.

Woman smoking electronic cigarette while using digital tablet in public park - stock photo

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This article explores how vaping works and the reasons why it can cause a sore throat. It will also explain its impact on overall health, as well as its prevalence.

How Does Vaping Work?

Vaporizers change a liquid into an aerosol, or vapor, using battery-powered heat. Different vaporizers may differ in appearance.

General features of vaping devices:

  • The act of inhaling on the mouthpiece turns on the heat source.
  • The heat changes the liquid held in the tank, or storage system, into a vapor.
  • The vapor is then able to be inhaled into the lungs by the person using the device.
  • Nicotine is then absorbed into the bloodstream.

What's in Vaping Juice?

Vaping juice may contain a number of different substances, including:

  • Propylene glycol, a synthetic chemical that is found in antifreeze and sometimes used as a food additive
  • Nicotine, an addictive stimulant, that may be present even in products labeled "zero-nicotine"
  • Food-grade flavoring
  • Diacetyl, a food flavoring linked to a lung disease called bronchiolitis obliterans, or "popcorn lung"
  • Heavy metals
  • Cancer-causing chemicals
  • Volatile organic compounds, which are chemicals that may be found in paints and cleaning supplies
  • Vegetable glycerin

As of January 2020, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) required that e-cigarette companies stop making and selling flavored vaping products to discourage youths from using them.

Is It Normal to Have a Sore Throat From Vaping?

Not everyone will experience it, but it is common. There are many reasons why you may get a sore throat after vaping.

Causes of vaping sore throat
 Verywell / Luyi Wange

What Is a Throat Hit?

A "throat hit" is the sensation that you feel when you inhale nicotine. The amount of nicotine, as well as the temperature of the vapor, can impact the sensation you may feel as you inhale. If you are not used to smoking, the throat hit may lead to a sore throat.

Nicotine Withdrawal

If you are using a vaping juice that is lower in nicotine concentration than what you typically use, you may experience nicotine withdrawal. Among other symptoms, a sore throat is a common side effect of nicotine withdrawal.

It's important to know that it is highly beneficial for your health to quit vaping or smoking nicotine and avoid all the negative consequences of nicotine addiction—even if you experience a mild temporary sore throat.

Some may suggest vaping as a way to wean off of nicotine, but this is not an FDA-approved tool for quitting smoking.

Propylene Glycol Concentration

Having a high concentration of propylene glycol in your vape juice can cause throat dryness and a sore throat.

Staying properly hydrated may help with a sore throat from vaping.

Volatile Organic Compounds and Diacetyl

Vaping juices may contain volatile organic compounds or diacetyl, both of which are known to cause throat irritation. If you are experiencing a sore throat, changing products or quitting vaping may help relieve your symptoms.

Dry Hit

If you inhale when there is no vaping juice to vaporize, you will experience a "dry hit." This can cause a burning sensation that is very uncomfortable. This will temporarily cause a sore throat.

What Are the Effects of Vaping?

You may not always experience a sore throat with vaping. However, vaping can lead to other serious health problems, such as lung disease, asthma, and heart disease. It is even linked to death.

Consider asking your healthcare provider about smoking or nicotine cessation programs to help prevent any long-term health problems that may be associated with the use of vaping products.

What Is the Prevalence of Vaping?

Research suggests:

  • Vaping is increasing in popularity year after year, with those 18 to 24 years old using the most.
  • White individuals tend to use e-cigarettes the most.
  • The highest increase in vaping use is seen among young male individuals.
  • The highest e-cigarette use is found in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Florida, Colorado, and Wyoming.
  • Of those age 45 and older, only 1.3% had not previously smoked cigarettes before using e-cigarettes, compared to 40% of those ages 18 to 24.
  • In the United States, about 3% of middle schoolers and 11% of high schoolers have vaped in the past 30 days.

As of Dec. 20, 2019, the new legal age limit is 21 years old for purchasing:

  • Cigarettes
  • Smokeless tobacco
  • Cigars
  • Hookah and pipe tobacco
  • E-cigarettes and e-liquids

Summary

Vaping is growing in popularity, especially with those 18 to 24 years old. Also called e-cigarettes, vaping devices work by turning liquid into a vapor that is inhaled.

Vaping liquids may contain potentially harmful ingredients that could impact your health and cause a sore throat. Some may include nicotine, propylene glycol, diacetyl, and volatile organic compounds.

Taking a dry hit or using vaping liquid with less nicotine than you are used to can lead to a sore throat. Some chemicals found in vaping liquid can also trigger a dry and/or sore throat. While a sore throat may cause some temporary discomfort, vaping is linked to other serious health complications.

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Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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