7 Smoking Withdrawal Symptoms Blamed on Vaping: eCig 101

When you first make the switch to e-cigarettes and move away from traditional cigarettes, you may notice something odd.  After the first few days it might seem like using e-cigarettes somehow makes you feel worse than the cigarettes ever did.  The truth is, these are all signs of smoking withdrawal in general, and typically not caused by vaping itself.

While the timing might seem like many of these things came on when you started vaping (or shortly afterwards), the truth is e-cigarettes probably didn’t cause these things.  There are a number of physiological changes people go through when they go off cigarettes.

The nicotine in e-cigarettes can help stay the hand of the nic fits. But not all the symptoms are caused by the nicotine itself.  Here are 8 fairly common things you might run into and attribute to e-cigarettes, but are actually your traditional cigarettes getting back at you for leaving them.

1. Coughing / Cold-like Symptoms

e-cigarette withdrawal symptoms man coughingThis is probably the number one complaint of people recently switching to e-cigarettes.  Within a few days of giving up cigarettes, you may find yourself coughing more than you ever did smoking the coffin nails.

This is the simple act of your lungs waking up and expelling all the extra freeloaders cigarette smoke has deposited in there.  Smoking deadens your lungs reflex to purge itself of foreign contaminates.  Once you stop actually smoking, your lungs begin to recover this reflex.

As a result, your body begins the process of purging all that junk that has collected.  The body’s way of doing that is to make you cough.  In addition mucus may build up which leads to symptoms like that of a cold.

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These symptoms may last for a week up to a month, but will eventually subside.  Of course, you should consult with your doctor if you think the coughing has gone on for an extended period.

2. Headaches

withdrawal symptoms headacheSimilar to the coughing brought on by the absence of contaminates, some people also report headaches after they’ve taken up e-cigarettes.  Much like the coughing fits, this is caused by the contaminates in the cigarette smoke.

There’s a number of chemical changes going on here that contribute to headaches.  However one of the biggest factor may be the changes in oxygen levels.  When you smoke, you’re inhaling a great deal of carbon monoxide with the other pollution found in the smoke.

Carbon monoxide lowers the oxygen level in  your blood.  e-Cigarettes do not contain carbon monoxide (or several thousand other things).  As a result, your brain and circulatory system are now getting more oxygen than it is used to which can result in headaches among other things such as tingling in the extremities.

3. Bad Breath, Dry Mouth or Sore Throat

guy vapingThis item is a little different from some of the others  you’ll find on the list.  This item is a smoking withdrawal symptom as well.  However, it is caused by dehydration which vaping tends to exacerbate.

The vapor that e-cigarettes emit remove moisture from the surrounding air.  This also includes the moisture in your mouth and throat. In short, e-cigarettes will dry you out.

Fortunately, this is an easy enough fix.  Drink plenty of water to stay good and hydrated.  Unlike many of the other symptoms, this one won’t go away, you’ll always need to make sure to keep your fluid intake going.

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4. Unusual Taste Sensation

can't taste vapor vaper's tongue title imageIf there’s one theme that’s been running throughout this article it’s that cigarettes mess with your body.  Most symptoms are a result of your body trying to right itself.

Taste is no exception.  Smoking plays havoc with your sense of taste.

I’ve covered this one pretty extensively in another eCig 101 article about being unable to taste e-liquid.  As your taste buds regroup, they may become over-sensitive and the result is things just taste funny to you.

Another explanation is that some things really do taste funny and you just didn’t notice until now.  You will eventually grow accustomed to your new sense of taste.


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Steve K

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  • Also watch out for the Quit Ulcers and the Quit Zits.

    the Quit Ulcers are mouth ulcers that come on as a result of quitting tobacco cigarettes cold turkey – or just switching away from them to something safer. Good news: they pass fairly quickly. This is a very common symptom of quitting, however you go about it.

    The Quit Zits are very bad news, luckily they only affect a few quitters. They can are like acne, and you can get it even if you never had acne as a teenager. The bad news is that for some people they take months to clear.

    These cigarette-quitting symptoms are experienced by any type of quitters and have nothing to do with ecigs. The ulcers usually go reasonably quickly – the zits don't. See your doctor for a skin-cleansing med, it's the only thing that can help. Don't bother quitting the ecig as it's nothing to do with this. There is only one thing that might possibly fix it (apart from going back to smoking), and that is Snus. We have no data on this fix and it would be worth investigating as the Zits are bad news.

    • I forgot all about the quit zits!

      • Hehe.

        Wouldn't wish the ex-smoker's acne on anyone, it's supposed to be real nasty, especially as it lasts months.

    • Unfortunately the Quit Ulcers do not go away fairly quickly. I have been analog free since October 2012 and I've been fighting them from the moment I quit. There is not a day that goes by that I don't have at least 1 ulcer in my mouth and I have had up to 10 at a time.

      • I’ve been smoking the ecigs for almost a year. (Quit smoking cigarettes about that long ago) In the last 2 months or so I’ve had these 2 ulcers on my tongue right close to the tip, my tongue feels like it’s kind of coated with something, and the front half my tongue feels numb. All of this is mostly on the right side and I have a ridge along the right side of my cheek that is very sore. I thought that I had been biting my cheek during sleep, but is never gets well. I’ve been to my doctor and he doesn’t know what is wrong. I tried a prescription of mouth rinse, I use warm salty water rinse 2 or 3 times a day and I’ve tried mouth rinse for sore gums or injuries in the mouth, and nothing has helped. I also chew the sugarless gum when I smoke. Do you have anything like that? I think it’s from the ecigs, but I don’t want to have to quit, but if this continues I’ll have to. I’d also don’t know what all the vg/pg stuff is and tanks, etc. I use the V2 ecigs. Do you think it’s the ecgis?

  • 5. Stomach Upset and Gas

    More likely, this is caused by the vegetable glycerin in the e-juice. I for example am plagued with the above, AND it gives me the trots. :( Good news is that propylene glycol, does not have the same effect on me.

    • PG/VG sensitivity can be a little more difficult to sniff out. A lot of times it's because some of these symptoms linger.

      I'd feel bad for anyone that was sensitive to both, I'm sure it happens. That would be a bummer.

      • I was lucky, when I started I decided to get some juice in pure vg, some in pure pg. It was immediately obvious there was an issue with the vg stuff so I did a little research, found I wasn't alone, tried the pure pg and was golden. Worked my way up to 30% vg, that's as much as I can take.

  • Those will be covered in a separate article. The effects of nicotine withdrawal are mitigated if you are using nicotine-containing cartridges for your e-cigarette, but due all of the tar, carcinogens and other chemicals in tobacco smoke and the years of accumulation, some of these signs may nevertheless happen. You should understand that your body is undergoing a change.leicher@hotmail.comleicher@hotmail.com

  • Yeah the ex-smokers acne is the worst. I've had acne since my teen years, but after I stopped smoking, for some very very odd reason, my acne got worse. You would think that you're healthier now that you've stopped harming your body.
    Another downside is that coincidentally my little one has gotten constipated as soon as I quit, not saying it's because of that, but still a hard time nevertheless. Been looking on the web on sites like http://www.toddlerconstipation.net but nothing to be found. Oh well, guess I'll need to call up the doc :)

  • brad kington

    (01/30/13 - 3:46 pm)

    This article is all not true at all! I quit smoking a year ago and have great healthy and normal, I started smoking an E go for 1 month, I just gave it up yesterday after suffering multple symptoms of breathing problems, headache,nausea, numbness in my arms(circulation). I truly am hoping I didnt do some perminent damage! I feel miserable and its directly from vaping! Dont do it!

  • smoker of regular cigarettes 38 years used electronic cigarette with ejuice for one month felt great then started waking up in the morning coughing up brite red fresh blood spots did this 4 days returned to regular gigarettes it stoped went back to vaping it started again maybe this vaping has its down falls as well as regular cigarettes do and should be more testing done to see how safe they really are !!


  • The blood is probably a result of the damage you did to your lungs over 38 years. To blame it on vaping is assenine. If it is caused by vaping it’s probably cause your using it too much or too strong of a solution for your personal case. All these symptoms are that of quitting smoking. If you don’t believe me try going without an e cig and cigarettes. Bet you still have the same issues!

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