Vape Cough Causes & Solutions: Achieve a Smooth Vaping Experience

vape cough causes

As a seasoned vaper with years of firsthand experience, I’ve encountered my fair share of vape cough. It’s a common issue that almost every vaper faces at some point in their journey, but it doesn’t have to be a permanent problem. Drawing from my extensive knowledge and practical expertise, I’ve created this comprehensive guide to help you understand the causes of vape cough and provide you with effective solutions to minimize irritation and achieve a smooth, satisfying vaping experience.

In this article, we’ll explore the various factors that contribute to vape cough, from biological responses and nicotine levels to e-liquid composition and inhalation techniques. By examining these elements in detail and offering practical advice based on real-world testing and data, I aim to provide you with the tools and knowledge necessary to overcome vape cough and fully embrace the benefits of vaping.

Why do I cough when I vape?

Biological Responses and Inexperience

For new vapers and those transitioning from smoking, vape cough is often the result of biological responses and inexperience. Just as smoking a cigarette for the first time can cause coughing, vaping requires a learning curve, and your body needs time to adapt to inhaling vapor. It’s essential to be patient and allow your body to acclimate to this new experience.

As someone who has helped numerous smokers transition to vaping, I can attest to the fact that this adjustment period is temporary. With time and practice, your body will become more accustomed to inhaling vapor, and the likelihood of experiencing vape cough will decrease significantly.

Nicotine Type and Strength

The type and strength of nicotine in your e-liquid play a crucial role in the occurrence of vape cough. Freebase nicotine, especially in higher concentrations, is known for its harsher throat hit, which can cause irritation and coughing. On the other hand, nicotine salt, commonly found in disposables and pod vapes, is less harsh on the throat due to its lower pH level.

Finding the right nicotine level is essential to minimizing vape cough. Higher nicotine strengths can increase throat and lung irritation, while lower levels may be unsatisfying. In my experience, experimenting with different nicotine types and strengths is key to discovering the perfect balance for your individual needs. Start with lower nicotine levels and gradually increase until you find a concentration that provides satisfaction without causing excessive coughing.

E-Liquid Composition: PG, VG, and Flavorings

The composition of your e-liquid, including the ratio of propylene glycol (PG) and vegetable glycerin (VG), as well as the flavorings used, can contribute to vape cough. PG is known for providing a stronger throat hit and carrying flavors efficiently, but it can also cause irritation and even allergic reactions in some individuals. VG, on the other hand, is smoother on the throat and produces more vapor.

Certain flavorings, such as menthol and cinnamon, are often associated with throat irritation. As a vaper who has tried countless e-liquid combinations, I recommend experimenting with different PG/VG ratios and flavor profiles to find the combination that minimizes vape cough while still providing a satisfying vaping experience. Start with higher VG ratios, such as 70% VG and 30% PG, and try a variety of flavor categories to determine which ones work best for you.

What are PG and VG and How to Use Them

Inhalation Technique and Device Compatibility

Proper inhalation technique is crucial to avoiding vape cough. There are two primary methods of inhaling vapor: mouth-to-lung (MTL) and direct lung (DL). MTL involves lightly inhaling the vapor into your mouth before taking it into your lungs, similar to smoking a cigarette. DL involves inhaling the vapor directly into your lungs, like taking a deep breath.

Using the wrong inhalation technique for your device can lead to vape cough. Smaller, low-powered devices like disposables and refillable pod vapes are designed for MTL vaping, while larger, high-powered devices like box mods and sub-ohm tanks are better suited for DL vaping. As an experienced vaper, I cannot stress enough the importance of matching your inhalation style to your device type. This compatibility is essential for a smooth and enjoyable vaping experience.

When I first started vaping, I made the mistake of trying to use a DL technique with a small, high-nicotine device, which resulted in intense coughing fits. It wasn’t until I learned to match my inhalation style with the appropriate device that I was able to minimize irritation and fully enjoy vaping.

Power Level and Dehydration

The power level of your device can also contribute to vape cough. Higher power settings produce more vapor and heat, which can be harsh on the throat and lungs. As someone who has experimented with various power levels, I recommend starting with a lower setting and gradually increasing it until you find your sweet spot. This approach allows your body to adapt to the vapor production and minimizes the risk of irritation and coughing.

Dehydration is another factor that can exacerbate vape cough. The ingredients in e-liquid, particularly PG and VG, are hygroscopic, meaning they absorb moisture. Nicotine is also linked to dehydration. In my experience, staying well-hydrated by consuming plenty of fluids while vaping is essential to alleviating dry cough symptoms and reducing throat irritation. I always keep a water bottle nearby when I’m vaping to ensure I’m properly hydrated.

1715507874 vape Power Level

Cilia Restoration for Transitioning Smokers

For those transitioning from smoking to vaping, vape cough may be a result of cilia restoration in the lungs. Cilia are tiny hair-like structures that help keep the lungs clear by removing mucus and debris. Tobacco smoke paralyzes and destroys cilia, but the good news is that this damage is reversible when you quit smoking.

As your lungs heal and cilia regrow, you may experience irritation and coughing. This is a normal part of the healing process and can occur whether you switch to vaping or quit nicotine altogether. In my experience working with transitioning smokers, I’ve found that being patient with your body as it recovers from the effects of smoking is crucial. The coughing and irritation will subside as your lungs heal, and you’ll begin to experience the full benefits of vaping.

How to vape without coughing

Gaining Experience and Experimenting

One of the most effective ways to overcome vape cough is through experience and experimentation. As you try different devices, e-liquids, and vaping styles, you’ll gradually find the combination that works best for you. Don’t be discouraged if you experience some coughing along the way; it’s a natural part of the learning process.

When I first started vaping, I tried dozens of different devices and e-liquids before finding the perfect setup for my needs. I kept a vaping journal to track my experiences, noting which combinations caused irritation and which ones provided a smooth, satisfying vape. This systematic approach allowed me to quickly identify the factors that contributed to my vape cough and make the necessary adjustments.

Adjusting Nicotine Type and Strength

If you find that your current nicotine type or strength is causing vape cough, consider making adjustments. If freebase nicotine is too harsh, try switching to nicotine salt, or vice versa. Similarly, if you’re using a high-nicotine e-liquid, try reducing the strength to see if it alleviates the coughing.

In my experience, starting with a lower nicotine strength and gradually increasing it until you find your sweet spot is the most effective approach. This method allows your body to adapt to the nicotine level and minimizes the risk of irritation and coughing. I also recommend trying different nicotine types to determine which one works best for you. Some vapers find that nicotine salt provides a smoother experience, while others prefer the throat hit of freebase nicotine.

Nicotine Type and Strength

Finding the Right PG/VG Ratio and Flavors

Experimenting with different PG/VG ratios and flavor profiles can also help minimize vape cough. If you suspect that PG is causing irritation, try an e-liquid with a higher VG content, such as 70% VG and 30% PG. Keep in mind that high-VG e-liquids are thicker and may not be suitable for all devices.

When it comes to flavors, some vapers find that certain profiles, such as desserts and bakery flavors, are less likely to cause irritation. However, this is highly individual, so it’s essential to try a variety of flavors to determine which ones work best for you.

As a vaper who has tried hundreds of different e-liquid flavors, I’ve found that my personal preferences have evolved over time. In the beginning, I gravitated towards fruity and menthol flavors, but I eventually discovered that creamy and dessert-inspired profiles provided a smoother, more enjoyable vaping experience for me. Don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone and try new flavors – you might be surprised by what you discover.

Mastering Inhalation Techniques

Ensuring that you’re using the appropriate inhalation technique for your device is crucial to minimizing vape cough. If you’re using a small, low-powered device, stick to a mouth-to-lung draw. For larger, high-powered devices, a direct lung inhale is more suitable.

Experiment with different airflow settings on your device to find a level of restriction that feels comfortable and smooth. Taking slower, gentler puffs can also help reduce the likelihood of coughing.

When I first started vaping, I found that taking short, quick puffs often led to coughing fits. It wasn’t until I learned to take slower, more controlled draws that I was able to minimize irritation and enjoy a smoother vaping experience. I also experimented with different airflow settings on my devices, finding that a slightly restricted airflow worked best for me.

Vaping Inhalation Techniques

Adjusting Power Levels

If you’re experiencing vape cough, try reducing the power level on your device. Lower wattages produce less vapor and heat, which can be easier on your throat and lungs. Gradually increase the power until you find a setting that provides a satisfying vape without causing irritation.

In my experience, starting with a lower power level and slowly working my way up has been the most effective approach. This method allows your body to adapt to the vapor production and minimizes the risk of coughing. I also recommend keeping a record of your preferred power settings for each device and e-liquid combination, as this can help you quickly find your ideal vaping experience.

Staying Hydrated

Drinking plenty of water is essential for all vapers, but it’s especially important if you’re struggling with vape cough. Keeping your body well-hydrated can help alleviate dry cough symptoms and reduce throat irritation caused by the hygroscopic properties of e-liquid ingredients.

As someone who vapes regularly, I make a point to drink at least 8 glasses of water per day. I also keep a water bottle with me at all times, especially when I’m vaping, to ensure that I’m properly hydrated. I’ve found that staying hydrated not only helps minimize vape cough but also improves my overall vaping experience and general well-being.

Staying Hydrated

Exploring Alternative Vaping Techniques

If you’re still experiencing vape cough despite trying the solutions above, you may want to consider alternative vaping techniques. One option is to vape without inhaling into your lungs at all, using a cigar-style puff. Simply draw the vapor into your mouth, let it sit for a few seconds, and then exhale. While this method may not be as flavorful or satisfying for some, it can effectively eliminate the risk of vape cough.

Another alternative technique is to use a lower-powered device with higher-nicotine e-liquids. This approach, often called “stealth vaping,” involves taking shorter, more discreet puffs and can be easier on the throat and lungs. I’ve found that this technique is particularly useful when I’m in situations where I need to be discreet about my vaping, such as at work or in public places.

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Addressing Mucus and Phlegm

If you’re a recent ex-smoker who has switched to vaping, you may notice an increase in mucus and phlegm production. This is not typically caused by vaping itself, but rather a result of your body healing from the damage caused by cigarette smoke. As your lungs and airways recover, cilia function improves, leading to the expulsion of mucus and phlegm. This is a normal part of the healing process and should subside over time.

As someone who successfully quit smoking by transitioning to vaping, I experienced a significant increase in mucus production during the first few weeks after making the switch. While it was initially concerning, I learned that this was a sign of my body healing and expelling the toxins that had accumulated from years of smoking. Staying hydrated and using an expectorant helped me manage the mucus and phlegm until my lungs had fully recovered.


Vape cough is a common issue that many vapers face, but it doesn’t have to be a permanent problem. By understanding the causes of vape cough and implementing the solutions discussed in this comprehensive guide, you can minimize irritation and enjoy a smooth, satisfying vaping experience.

The key to overcoming vape cough is a combination of patience, experimentation, and self-awareness. Take the time to try different devices, e-liquids, and techniques until you find the perfect combination that works for you. Pay attention to your body’s reactions and make adjustments as needed. And most importantly, stay hydrated and give your body the time it needs to adapt to vaping.

As a seasoned vaper with years of firsthand experience, I can confidently say that the benefits of vaping far outweigh the temporary discomfort of vape cough. By following the advice outlined in this guide and staying committed to your vaping journey, you’ll be well on your way to enjoying a cough-free, satisfying vaping experience.

Sophia Bennett