The Mysterious Vape Tongue Phenomenon
Vape tongue is real and it’s here to wreck your vaping experience. But what is it, why does it happen and how do you prevent it?
Without a doubt, the best thing about vaping is the wealth of flavours available at our fingertips. With literally thousands of varieties to choose from and new and exciting flavours springing up all the time, there’s really never been a better time to vape.
With that said, if you’re an experienced vaper, you may or may not be familiar with the term “vape tongue”. If you’ve never heard this phrase before, its very utterance might evoke unpleasant images of swollen tongues covered in a carpet of blisters caused by too much vaping.
In reality vape tongue is much less stomach-churning – it’s just the name we use when someone is no longer able to taste the flavour of their vapes. Not ideal, but certainly not as bad as its name suggests!
What is Vape Tongue?
If you’re experiencing vape tongue, fear not as this is something most of us will encounter from time to time.
As experienced vapers can probably attest, every so often you’ll reach for your vape ready to indulge in that deliciously familiar flavour, but for some reason this time something’s amiss. You’ll inhale the vapour as you normally would, only this time, for reasons unknown, the taste is completely underwhelming. In some cases it might even be nonexistent and the phenomenon can last for anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks.
So what gives? Let’s take a look at the cause of vape tongue, and see if there’s a way we can prevent it so you can get back to experiencing the full flavour of your e-liquids once again.
How is Vape Tongue Caused?
Your tongue is loaded with taste buds, which allow us to experience the full flavour of anything we eat, drink and vape. Every tongue has around 10,000 taste buds, which have tiny, sensitive microscopic hairs that send messages to the brain to let it know how something tastes.
These taste buds are replaced around every two weeks or so, but in that time they can become depleted and your sense of taste can diminish slightly.
Dehydration (dry mouth) is also a leading cause of vaper’s tongue. Our taste buds need saliva to work properly, but when we inhale vapour on a regular basis, naturally this causes our saliva to dry up which can affect our ability to taste.
Our sense of smell is also responsible for about 80% of what we taste – this explains the distinct lack of taste when you’ve got a cold. When experiencing vape tongue, vapers often discuss a film-like coating building up in the nasal passage and back of the mouth. Turns out this film can block your olfactory receptors – the nerves responsible for your sense of smell – preventing them from picking up the scent of your vape and causing that frustrating tasteless sensation.
These are the main reasons for a less than satisfying taste with your vape. Other reasons may include certain viruses or symptoms of long COVID, although that’s a different area entirely and not one we’re qualified to give advice on unfortunately!
How Can I Prevent Vape Tongue?
So now we know what causes vaper’s tongue, the question is how do we stop it? Well as you’ll have guessed already, there are a few simple things we can do to avoid this rather annoying phenomenon.
Perhaps the best way to avoid vape tongue is to drink plenty of water. This will ensure your taste buds are firing on all cylinders and you’ll avoid the yucky flavour-hindering film that stops you enjoying your vape.
Brush Your Tongue!
There are two types of people in this world: those who don’t brush their tongue and those who do. To give yourself the best chances of avoiding vape tongue, make sure you count yourself among the latter and give it a little brush every once in a while.
Brushing your tongue will remove excess bacteria that can build up over time, ensuring your taste buds are primed and ready for action. Oh and your breath will also smell better, so winner winner!
Reduce Caffeine and Alcohol Intake
Caffeine and alcohol are both known diuretics, which means they make you urinate more frequently. Heavy consumption of this dehydrating duo is a surefire way of sapping your body’s fluids, which as we know could seriously hamper the taste of your vape.
If you’re experiencing vape tongue or you’re looking to avoid it entirely, limiting the consumption of alcohol and caffeine will most certainly help.
Keeping things fresh and changing up your e-liquid flavours is a great way to keep your taste buds on their toes. When we inhale the same e-liquid again and again, our smell and taste receptors become accustomed to the flavour and our experience is diminished. Switching it up from time to time should help.
Still Smoking or Recently Quit?
Another reason you might be experiencing underwhelming flavour is if you’re still smoking or you’ve recently quit. Smoking damages your taste buds which results in a less than optimum sense of taste, but the good news is this damage is only temporary.
The amount of time it takes for your sense of taste to return to its former glory will depend on a few factors including how long you were smoking, the amount you smoked and the time between now and your last cigarette. For most people, improvements are noticed in just a matter of days, and your sense of taste can usually be fully restored within a few weeks.
If you’re vaping but still struggling to kick cigarettes into touch entirely, there are a few things you can do to reduce cravings.
One way is to increase your nicotine strength to mimic the strong hit you’re used to with conventional cigarettes. This should make the transition that little bit easier.
Another tip for those who were partial to a menthol cigarette in the past is trying a menthol-flavoured e-liquid, which should reduce cravings and make it easier to stay on track as your brain will automatically associate this flavour with smoking cigarettes.
If you’d like any more information on quitting then the NHS has some helpful resources, or you’re looking to set out on your vaping journey, why not check out our Getting Started vaping guide? There you can find all the information you need on devices, e-liquids and coils, ensuring you’re fully prepared and armed with enough knowledge to make your switch to vaping a raving success!