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Sore Throat From Vaping: Causes and Cures

Published 19 September 2023, Updated 10 April 2024

Sore Throat From Vaping: Causes and Cures

A sore throat from vaping is pain, scratchiness, or irritation of the throat that often worsens when you swallow. Unlike most cases of pharyngitis, which are caused by viral infections like a cold or the flu, a sore throat from vaping is typically a result of the physical effects of the vapour on the tissues of the throat, which can dry out the throat and mouth, leading to inflammation and irritation.

A sore throat is a common side effect of vaping. According to a recent survey by the Department of Public Health Sciences at Semmelweis University, 27.7% of daily e-cigarette users report a sore throat caused by vaping.

The main cause of a sore throat from vaping is throat dehydration. E-liquid ingredients can dehydrate the throat, often leading to inflammation, irritation, and a sore throat. Dry hits (inhaling a vape without enough vape juice on the wick) and allergic reactions can also cause a sore throat from vaping, but these are less common causes compared to throat dehydration.

The main remedy for a sore throat from vaping is to drink plenty of fluids, especially water. Dr. Colleen Ryan at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles notes that staying hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids keeps the throat moist and helps soothe sore throat symptoms.

Can Vaping Cause a Sore Throat?

Vaping can cause a sore throat because the vapour from an e-cigarette dehydrates and irritates the throat. Propylene glycol (PG) and vegetable glycerin (VG), two of the main ingredients in e-liquid, are humectants (they draw water from the throat's tissues when inhaled), causing dehydration and throat soreness.

Dr. Michael Benninger at the Cleveland Clinic notes dehydration as a common culprit of a sore throat. The lack of moisture caused by the inhalation of PG and VG can cause the throat tissues to become inflamed and sore, leading to discomfort while speaking, swallowing, or even breathing. Dr. Benninger notes that a sore throat is rarely a sign of something serious, but you should see a doctor if your sore throat has not improved after a couple of weeks.

How Long Does a Sore Throat from Vaping Last?

A sore throat from vaping usually lasts three or four days (give or take a day). It usually subsides after the tissues of your throat become rehydrated over the course of a few days and as your throat becomes accustomed to the sensation of vapour.

In the context of Vaping Side Effects, a sore throat is typically temporary, and symptoms should resolve without the need for medical intervention.

The Cleveland Clinic notes that sore throat symptoms usually go away within 10 days. If symptoms persist or your throat feels worse after 10 days, you should seek medical care from your healthcare provider.

Is It Okay to Vape with a Sore Throat?

Vaping with a sore throat increases the likelihood of prolonging your symptoms and making inflammation worse. It is best not to vape with a sore throat to avoid further throat irritation that may worsen inflammation and lead to discomfort while speaking, swallowing, or even breathing.

How to Cure a Sore Throat From Vaping

The 6 remedies to cure a sore throat from vaping are listed below.

  1. Drink Plenty of Fluids
  2. Suck Throat Lozenges or Hard Candies
  3. Suck a Popsicle, Ice Lollies or Ice Cubes
  4. Gargle with Warm Salt Water
  5. Use A Throat Spray
  6. Use a Humidifier While Sleeping

6 Remedies to Cure a Sore Throat From Vaping

1. Drink Plenty of Fluids

Drinking plenty of fluids such as water, warm water with lemon and honey, herbal teas, broths, hot clear soups, warm milk, and electrolyte-rich sports drinks can help soothe a sore throat from vaping and cure it by re-hydrating the tissues of your throat.

According to a study from the Common Cold Centre and Healthcare Clinical Trials at Cardiff University, a hot drink can provide immediate and sustained relief from a sore throat, as observed by the participants in the study. The warmth and hydration provided by a hot drink help to soothe the throat and reduce irritation.

2. Suck Throat Lozenges or Hard Candies

Sucking throat lozenges or hard candies helps to cure a sore throat from vaping by increasing your saliva production and thus keeping your throat moist. Some over-the-counter lozenges contain menthol and other active ingredients (including antiseptics and pain relievers), which can numb throat pain caused by vaping.

Dr. David King, Senior Lecturer at the General Practice Clinical Unit, University of Queensland, notes that many active ingredients are added to lozenges that can help numb the pain, kill germs and reduce redness associated with a sore throat. Dr. King notes that some of these active ingredients include antiseptics, pain relievers, menthol and eucalyptus oil, cough suppressants such as dextromethorphan and soothing compounds.

3. Suck a Popsicle, Ice Lollies or Ice Cubes

Sucking a popsicle, ice lolly or ice cube helps to remedy the symptoms of a sore throat from vaping because the icy liquid can help numb your throat and ease inflammation. These cold icy liquids also have the benefit of hydrating your throat from the dehydrating effects of PG and VG, providing relief from irritation and promoting faster healing.

While there are no direct medicinal benefits of popsicles, ice chips, ice cream and frozen fruit, there’s no denying their soothing effect on a sore throat and their aid in reducing inflammation, according to UPMC Urgent Care at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

4. Gargle with Warm Salt Water

Gargling with warm salt water is a remedy for a sore throat from vaping because the hypertonic properties of the saltwater solution can help draw out excess fluid from the inflamed tissues of the throat. This process, known as osmosis, reduces swelling and alleviates pain.

A saltwater gargle has natural antibacterial properties, which can help cleanse the throat of any irritants or potential pathogens. The warmth of the water also provides soothing relief to the irritated mucous membranes, further reducing discomfort and inflammation caused by vaping.

If you’re suffering from a sore throat from vaping, try gargling with salt water by adding a quarter teaspoon of salt to 8 ounces of warm water (¼ tsp salt per 235ml water), according to The Institute for Clinical Systems Improvement and the American Cancer Society.

5. Use A Throat Spray

Throat sprays offer a targeted and effective approach to alleviating the symptoms of a sore throat caused by vaping. Many throat sprays contain local anaesthetics like phenol that can numb the throat. Some throat sprays may contain ingredients like benzydamine that reduce inflammation, helping to alleviate the swelling and redness in the throat tissues resulting from vaping.

If you’re suffering from a sore throat from vaping, try using a throat spray. Spray directly into the back of your throat using the nozzle every 2 to 3 hours for the best results, according to pharmacists at Weldricks Pharmacy.

6. Use a Humidifier While Sleeping

Using a humidifier while sleeping is a remedy for a sore throat from vaping because a humidifier adds moisture to the air, which moisturises the dry throat and irritated tissues of the throat, aiding in the healing process. This can be particularly helpful if you have resorted to mouth breathing as a result of feeling congested and unwell, which further dries out the throat.

Dr. Joshua Silverman at Northwell Health notes that a humidifier can help rehydrate the throat's mucus membranes. Dr. Silverman recommends a humidity level between 30% and 50% for the best results, as this range is optimal for maintaining the moisture balance in the throat without promoting mold growth or other potential allergens in the home. Maintaining this humidity level can significantly reduce irritation and discomfort if you’re experiencing a sore throat from vaping.

Is a Sore Throat from Vaping Serious?

A sore throat from vaping is a temporary discomfort that is unlikely to be serious in most cases. The National Health Service (NHS) notes that sore throats are common and usually nothing to worry about. If you often get sore throats or your sore throat does not improve after a week, you should see your healthcare provider, according to the NHS.

Can You Get Tonsillitis From Vaping?

There is currently no scientific evidence to suggest that vaping can cause tonsillitis. Tonsillitis is a condition caused by a viral infection and can also be caused by a bacterial infection. Unless you share a vape with an infected individual, there is no need to be concerned about getting tonsilitis from vaping.

Some studies suggest that vaping may help cure recurrent tonsillitis, although further research is required. Dr. Joanna Miler published a 2017 case report in the Medical Hypotheses journal documenting the resolution of recurrent tonsillitis in a non-smoker who became a vaper. Dr. Miller notes that one possible explanation for the patient’s improvement in recurrent tonsillitis may be due to the antimicrobial properties of propylene glycol.

Can You Get Cobblestone Throat From Vaping?

Currently, no scientific evidence suggests that vaping can cause cobblestone throat directly. However, as cobblestone throat can be caused by chronic irritation, inflammation, or postnasal drip, it's plausible to consider that the irritants in vaping products or the drying effect of vaping could contribute to conditions that favour the development of cobblestone throat.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, after prolonged irritation to your sinuses and the drying out of your airways, a sore throat may lead to postnasal drip and, eventually, cobblestone throat.

Can You Get Laryngitis From Vaping

While definitive scientific evidence is still lacking, it is theorised that vaping could heighten the risk of laryngitis. The vapour from vaping, when inhaled, passes the vocal cords, potentially causing inflammation and irritation.

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