Updated 24/06/2013

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Summary:

  • Purpose of article is to educate the readers so that you know what to expect and gives it maximum chance of switching to e-cigarettes.
  • Side effects of quitting conventional cigarettes range from heartburn, nausea, coughing and increased phlegm, dizziness and poor sleep.
  • Side effects of vaping range from dry throat/mouth, allergies, and nicotine overdose/withdrawal symptoms, such as dizziness, headaches, and lack of sleep.
  • These symptoms are normally temporary during this transitioning period.
  • General good health habits, such as drinking plenty of water daily, and avoiding stimulants like caffeine during this time could help significantly.

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“There are two ways to face the future – one is with apprehension, and the other is with anticipation” – Jim Rohn.

If you are like thousands of other ‘first-time vapers’, then you are most likely switching from tobacco cigarettes (also known as analogs).  Your body will need to adjust itself to the alternative form of smoking that comes without the deadly chemicals and carcinogens in conventional cigarettes.  Therefore the side effects will come from two fronts, i.e. the quitting of the old, and the starting of the new e-cigs.

If you do not plan ahead properly and read about the potential side-effects you may experience then there is a good chance that you may not make a successful switch away from the harmful analogs.  By knowing what challenges you may face you are able to ‘anticipate’ this and manage your body during this period which will increase your chances of kicking the dirty habit by many folds.

Possible withdrawal symptoms of quitting cigarettes:

15 year timeline image - What happens when a smoker quits

  • Digestive – heartburn, indigestion, nausea, and diarrhoea.
  • Respiratory – Sinus Congestion, coughing, and increased phlegm.
  • Circulatory – feeling stiff, or possibly tingling in your toes and fingers, and dizziness – this is because your brain is taking in more oxygen now as your circulation increases.
  • Sleep – poor sleep, leading to loss of concentration/focus.
  • Acne – ‘quit zits’ are a consequence of the body releasing toxins inside from all those years of inhaling bad chemicals and tar in tobacco smoke.
  • Increased senses of taste and smell – this is because your body is cleansing itself from the tar and chemicals and your taste buds start to recover.

It is worth noting at this point that these are just the common side effects and it is unlikely that you will experience all of these symptoms.  More importantly, as your body starts to adjust to the healthier ‘you’, these symptoms will gradually disappear.

Possible side effects of vaping are:

  • Dry or sore throat*
  • Extra dry mouth (“cottonmouth”)*
  • Allergies* – may be allergic to the ingredients leading to skin rashes, or diarrhoea in extreme cases.
  • Nicotine overdose symptoms – headache, racing pulse, insomnia, ringing in the ears – tinnitus, dizziness
  • Nicotine withdrawal symptoms – if you switched to e-cigarettes and went for the zero nicotine version then you may experience the same symptoms as quitting smoking cold turkey.  These symptoms include headaches, mild tremors, feeling too hot or cold, nausea, anxiety, poor sleep, lack of concentration/focus, depression.

*these side-effects tend to be caused by the core ingredient Propylene Glycol (PG,) in the E-cigarette cartridges, which when inhaled can coat the back of the throat or mouth causing it to be dry and irritations to occur.  Similarly upon exhale of the vapor, it can come into contact with your skin and in rare circumstances allergies can occur.  In the majority of cases switching to the vegetable version (VG) will get rid of these symptoms.

Again, it is worth remembering that these symptoms are largely temporary and tend to subside after the first week or two and extended use.  If you continue to experience these symptoms, then we recommend that you seek medical advice immediately.

Tips:

Just some general good health habits would reduce the effects of these temporary symptoms after transitioning. These are:

  • Drink plenty of water - recommended to drink 8 glasses of water per day when vaping to keep hydrated and to flush out the toxins inside the body.  This would also help if you experience coughing, or dry mouth/throat.
  • Get plenty of sleep evenly (e.g. 8 hours a sleep a day) throughout the week and try to sleep earlier than you normally would.
  • Avoid stimulants such as caffeine in coffee, fizzy/energy drinks as this would exacerbate your sleeplessness and may also trigger an outbreak of acne which is not uncommon.
  • Try a lower strength of nicotine for your e-cigarette to treat dizziness or headaches.
  • Try switching to the Vegetable Glycerin (VG) instead if you think you may be allergic to the ingredients in the e-liquid cartridges – it is not uncommon for some people to be allergic to the normal ingredient of Propylene Glycol (PG).

Conclusion

Although we have touched on a few cons of transitioning from smoking to vaping, the benefits of switching far outweighs the cons discussed.  Most of the side-effects are temporary as you would normally expect especially if you are giving up a habit that you have been accustomed to for many years.  Remember that very often many things in life tend to get worse before they get better, and it’s a case of taking one step back in order to move two steps forward.

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References
  1. American Cancer Society, 2013, Guide to quitting smoking, American Cancer Society
  2. National Cancer Institute, 2010, How to handle withdrawal symptoms and triggers when you decide to quit smoking, National Cancer Institute
  3. V2 Cigs, visited 05/2013, Symptoms you may experience when you start using electronic cigarettes, V2 Cigs
  4. Image source: Cancer.org