Why Do I Cough When I Vape? (Common Reasons & Solutions)

Why Do I Cough When I Vape

Do you suffer from vapers’ cough? While this is irritating, this shouldn’t stop you from vaping altogether.

In most cases, it’s because you’re doing something wrong.

The good news is you can quickly get rid of the symptoms! But for you to do that, we first need to answer this question first: “Why do I cough when I vape?”

Why Do I Cough When I Vape?

1. You’re New to Vaping

New vapers are more likely to cough after their first use. More often than not, it’s due to the inhaling technique (more about this in a while.)


Follow the tips below! They can help you improve your vaping techniques – and make better nicotine choices (among the many other things) – so that you don’t cough after every hit.

Moreover, these coughing fits are often temporary.  In fact, a report has shown that 92% of vapers no longer experience coughing after ten weeks of e-cig smoking.

Indeed, practice (and the right choices) make perfect!

2. You’ve Just Quit Smoking

Are you planning on quitting smoking? Then using e-cigarettes is a good alternative. They contain fewer chemicals than the 7,000 particulates you get from traditional tobacco.

And while a vape device can help you reduce smoking, it may also lead to a smoker’s cough.

This happens because the hair-like structures (cilia) in your airway aren’t exposed to smoke anymore. They begin to grow again – and become more active in moving phlegm. As a result, you end up coughing a lot.

The vapor can also irritate your throat, primarily because you’re not used to it.

And, if you’ve been using cigarettes for a long, the vape’s lack of anesthetics and antitussives can also make you cough more.

The former contains anesthetics, which help reduce the symptoms associated with smoking. They also come with antitussives, which suppress the smoker’s coughing tendencies.


It may help to give yourself a vaping rest whenever you experience coughing fits.

You Inhale Incorrectly

3. You Inhale Incorrectly

Let’s say it’s your first time buying a vape kit. They may look the same, but they’re not.

There’s the mouth-to-lung (MTL) vape, which has coils that produce lower amounts of power – and a tighter airflow. MTL works best with higher nicotine levels and, as such, is better at recreating the traditional smoking experience.

Another type of coil available is the direct-to-lung (DTL). It produces a higher power – and a more ‘open’ airflow than MTL. As such, it’s ideal for lower nicotine strengths.

It’s also a good choice if you want to create bigger vapor clouds.

Because these products are immensely different, incorrect vaping may lead to unpleasant coughing episodes.


Correct your vaping technique.

If you’re using an MTL vape pen, take a long, smooth draw into your mouth. Don’t take quick draws – like you would with tobacco.

Once you get the vapor inside your mouth, draw it in and inhale it into your lungs. Perform this step – called swallowing or taking back the vapor – before you exhale the vapor.

For DTL coils, make sure to draw the vapor slowly and steadily into your lungs – ideally for 3-5 seconds. Once the vapor reaches your lungs, you can go ahead and exhale it.


4. It’s Because of the High Nicotine Strength

Nicotine stimulates the production of dopamine, a chemical that makes you feel good and relaxed. Understandably, these effects may prompt you to opt for a high nicotine level.

Well, you shouldn’t. That’s because the more potent the nicotine is, the more irritating it will be to the throat.


Switch to lower-strength nicotine, ideally those with concentrations of 10 mg/ml (10%) or below.

And when you do so, see that your device works well with the nicotine you want. For example, pens with the direct-lung vaping feature go best with low-strength nicotine because they produce higher vapor amounts.

Likewise, make sure to refer to these figures:

  • If you smoked 1-5 cigarettes per day, go for a nicotine strength of 3mg/ml (3%)
  • If you smoked 6-10 cigarettes per day, a nicotine strength of 6 mg/ml is recommended

You're Vaping the Wrong Type of Nicotine

5. You’re Vaping the Wrong Type of Nicotine

Nicotine comes in two forms: Nicotine salts and freebase nicotine.

Freebase nicotine is a pure/base form, thus making it very potent. Since it has a high pH, it can feel harsh when inhaled. As such, many who use freebase nicotine often develop vapers’ cough.


Vape nicotine salt e-liquid instead. They are neutralized, which is why they’re smoother – and less likely to cause coughs.

Tip: When choosing nicotine salts, opt for one with menthol ingredients. It can soothe your throat, cool your airways, and reduce your coughing episodes.

6. The PG/VG Ratio is Not Ideal

Vape juice is made from two bases: propylene glycol (PG) and vegetable glycerin (VG)/ PG carries flavors better, while VG helps produce larger clouds.

While the former can deliver a good throat hit to some, it can lead to a sore/scratchy throat for others.


Choose a juice that contains a lower PG ratio (20:80 or 30:70). This will prevent coughing and help you produce bigger clouds as well.

As you get used to the vaping experience, you can eventually increase your VG/PG ratios. Here are some excellent guidelines to follow once you’re able to do so:

  • Choose 50:50 to get the maximum flavor from your e-juice.
  • A 50:50 PG/VG ratio is ideal if you want to be more discreet with your vaping.
  • Go for 70:30 or 60:40 if you want a more pronounced throat hit.

The Wattage is Too High

7. The Wattage is Too High

Like smoking high nicotine levels, setting a high wattage can also cause some coughing. That’s because it creates more vapor – and, expectedly, more nicotine and PG per hit. Although this sounds good, these chemicals can lead to throat irritation and eventual coughing.


Set the correct wattage. According to experts, it’s between 50 to 100 watts.

Don’t set the wattage too low, for this will end up affecting your vaping experience. For one, this can lead to less vaporization. The upside, however, is that it can help improve battery life – and the vape’s lifespan in general.

For best results, make sure to refer to your kit’s instructions to get the correct coil setting. It will also help to watch this video to learn more about your vape’s wattage.

8. You’re Not Well-Hydrated

As mentioned, vape juices contain VG and PG. Both are humectants, meaning they can draw moisture – and trap it.

This can lead to a common side effect of vaping – dehydration. Not only will it make your tongue and lips dry, but it can give you a dry throat as well. Again, it’s the latter that leads to that pesky chronic cough.


Drink more liquids before and after your vaping sessions. According to the Mayo Clinic, it’s about 3.7 liters/15.5 cups of fluid daily for men and 2.7 liters/11.5 cups daily for women.


9. You’re Chain-Vaping

It’s easy to get into chain vaping, thanks (or no thanks) to the juicy taste that each vape mod gives.

Unfortunately, this is bad for your e-cigarette and your throat/lungs.

For one, heated e-liquid can overflow into the chamber quickly. So instead of getting vapor, you get a spat of juice instead.

Chain vaping also prevents the wick from getting soaked up properly – thus resulting in an unpleasant ‘dry hit.’  This can cause chest pain and coughing fits, among many other things.


Slow your vaping down! Give your e-cigarette enough time to function correctly. It’s good to check the juice levels regularly as well.

10. Your Vape Pen is Faulty

While your coughing may result from the wrong inhalation technique or nicotine choice, it could also occur because of your vape pen.

For example, if the atomizer – or the element that vaporizes the liquid – is damaged, you may end up coughing after vaping.

The same thing can take place with an old coil. In due time, it can get burnt and clogged with residue.

Solution: Check for damaged parts and clean/replace them accordingly.

Remember: atomizers can last anywhere from 4-12 weeks. They should be changed if:

  • The juice tastes off
  • You experience harsher hits
  • The airflow is clogged
  • There’s gunk buildup
  • There’s leakage

It will also help to clean the atomizer with a cotton bud and alcohol regularly. Here’s how to do it.

As for the coil, the frequency with which to replace them might vary. Some models can last a week – while some can work for months.

However, you know it’s time to change the coil if:

  • The juice tastes ‘off’
  • The vapor volume/clarity has changed

If you plan on replacing your vape pen, choose a reputable product made with quality components/ingredients. You don’t want to waste your money on a device that breaks down easily!


Many vapers cough because of the following reasons:

  • New to vaping
  • Recently quit smoking
  • Incorrect vaping technique
  • High nicotine strength
  • Wrong nicotine type
  • Inappropriate VG/PG ratio
  • High wattage
  • Dehydration
  • Faulty vape pen

Have you had vape-related coughing episodes as well? How did you address them? Make sure to share your techniques below!


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