Estimated reading time: 7 minutes
Does your vape make you hiccup? If so, you’re not alone. Just speak to anyone who’s been vaping for a few weeks, and chances are, they’ve been hiccupping, too.
But why does vaping cause hiccups? And if so, is it just nicotine in e cigarettes that makes you hiccup, or is there some other reason, like not having the right vape kit?
Read on to find out why hiccups happen during or after vaping, and how you can stop them from happening in the first place.
Why do I get hiccups from vaping?
Nicotine is the main reason for vaping hiccups, though this is not from vapour that you inhale. Instead, hiccups happen because some nicotine vapour condenses in your mouth and gets swallowed. As with smoking, inhaling too quickly while vaping can also cause hiccupping by making you swallow gulps of air.
Why does nicotine cause hiccups?
Nicotine causes hiccups because when too much of it enters your digestive system, your body responds to it defensively as a potential threat.
When your stomach recognises nicotine as a poison, it swells temporarily, and this triggers a hiccupping response in your diaphragm.
Which factors can make vaping hiccups worse?
It seems that some people seem to hiccup more often than others when they vape, and for various reasons. Here are a few factors which might make hiccupping more likely when you’re vaping:
1. Your nicotine is too strong
Most often, vaping hiccups happen because nicotine concentration in your vapour is just too strong. For those new to vaping, getting used to the feel of it can take time anyway.
But vapour that’s too strong or harsh can give you sore throats, coughs – and nicotine hiccups – if it ends up in your stomach.
New vapers (who are usually often more sensitive to vapour anyway) should avoid e liquids stronger than 8-10mg at first. Once you’re able to vape at higher strength e liquids without hiccupping, you can start cranking up your nicotine levels slowly.
2. Wrong kind of nicotine or base liquid
Your vape hiccups may also be happening because you’ve just been using the wrong type of nicotine or base in your e liquid. E liquids these days contain not only different flavours, but also different types of nicotine.
Newer e liquid formulations now contain softer “nic salts” instead of regular nicotine. Nic salt tends to be smoother on the throat, and may be less likely to give you hiccups, though they can still happen.
Another factor that might make nicotine hiccups worse is too much PG (propylene glycol). PG is an e liquid base dilutant and also an additive used in food flavourings and other edible products.
On its own, PG won’t cause hiccupping, but too much of it can dry your throat and cause dehydration.
It’s logical then to suggest that having a dry mouth might mean that any nicotine that stays in your mouth could be more concentrated. And higher concentrations of nicotine in saliva you swallow might then make hiccupping more likely.
Go for nicotine salts if you’re new to vaping for a smoother throat hit, softer inhale and less chance of hiccups.
Check the label of whatever e liquids or pods you’re vaping to see what they contain. If you think you may be sensitive to PG, try going for a lower ratio (50%) and see if your hiccups persist.
As a general rule, e liquids with higher VG (glycerine) ratios tend to be a bit kinder on the throat.
If you still don’t trust what’s in your premixed liquid or if it’s still giving you hiccups, then you can try mixing your own e liquid at home. DIY e liquid mixing gives you more scope to control exactly which ingredients go into your vape, and this should have a positive impact on your hiccupping.
3. Vaping like a heavy smoker
One major reason for hiccups in new vapers is that they simply start vaping too heavily, deeply or quickly. And vaping like this can mean you end up swallowing air, which can make you hiccup, regardless of the effects nicotine may also have.
If you were a heavy smoker or even a chain smoker before you switched to vaping, you may be hiccupping because you’re still trying to vape like a smoker.
This isn’t unusual for smokers coming to vaping, and makes sense when you think about it. You’re craving nicotine from cigarettes, and are vaping constantly or too quickly to get the same effect, hence the hiccups!
To fix this, try to give yourself more breaks between puffs by putting your vape pen or pod down for a while. Not only will that help get rid of the hiccups, but it will also probably save you money on vape pods or refills.
4. Using the wrong kind of vape device
Hiccups can also arise because you’re using a vape device that’s not designed for the kind of vaping that you originally intended it for.
Beginners or new vapers switching to vaping straight from smoking should definitely avoid high power devices such as “direct lung” kits, mods and tanks.
These more powerful e cigs are designed for inhaling large volumes of low strength (6-8mg) vapour direct into the lungs. But trying to suck on them like regular vape pens will make hiccupping more likely as more of the vapour will condense in your mouth.
And using direct lung vape kits with regular or high strength e liquid (12-18mg) may make matters worse still.
Check your device to make sure it’s not too powerful for your needs.
If you’ve just started vaping, you’ll probably only need a basic beginner vape kit like a vape pen or pod. This kind of device will let you take gentle sucks with regular strength e liquid and with less risk of hiccups.
If you’re already using a high-power direct lung device and you want to keep it, try using a weaker e liquid (or nic salt mix) to keep hiccups at bay.
5. Accidentally swallowing nicotine liquid
Another factor that can make hiccups happen during or shortly after vaping is swallowing a drop of nicotine e liquid by accident. This usually happens because of a leaky pod vape or tank, though “spit-back” is another common cause.
Spit back happens when small droplets of e liquid shoot into your mouth from a spitting atomiser or coil in your tank or pod.
I’ve been vaping for years and I still get hiccups from spit back and leaky vapes from time to time, if I’m not careful. Luckily though, there are a few things you can do to make hiccups from swallowing e liquid less likely when vaping.
Firstly, if you use a vape tank or pen, so-called “splash” guards can stop e liquid splattering into your mouth and causing hiccups. Vape pens with built-in mesh splash guards are quite easy to find nowadays and make a lot of difference.
Likewise, if hiccups from e liquid leaks are a problem, look for anti-leak features or guarantees in new tank or vape pen product descriptions before you buy.
Does vaping alone cause nicotine hiccups?
It is not only vaping that can give you nicotine hiccups. In fact, anything that you put in your mouth that contains nicotine can also make you hiccup.
Indeed, your stomach will react to high concentrations of any kind of nicotine, regardless of delivery method. This includes replacement therapy aids such nicotine gum, lozenges, or sprays, and also smoking alternatives like IQOS.
How to Stop Nicotine Hiccups
The best way to stop nicotine hiccups in the short term is to drink lots of cold water right away. This will settle your stomach and relieve your hiccups by diluting any traces of nicotine you have ingested while vaping.
In the longer term, you can prevent nicotine hiccups by not vaping too quickly and by using leakproof vape devices with anti-splash guards.
Nicotine hiccups can be a right pain not only for anyone who vapes, but for those using lozenges or gum, too.
When it comes to vaping though, it’s important to remember that hiccupping is not something you have to put up with forever. While it’s more likely to happen when you start vaping, you can fix hiccups easily, and in just a few steps.