Vaper's Tongue: What Causes It and How to Fix It
Regular vaping can cause a side effect called vaper’s tongue. It’s a condition that causes you to lose some or all of your ability to taste the flavor of vape juice. Vapers experience this condition for as short as a few days up to a few weeks.
Fortunately, there are methods to speed up your tongue’s recovery and get you back to tasting the full flavor of your favorite vape juice. First, you need to understand what causes it.
What causes vaper’s tongue?
Vaper’s tongue can be scary if you’ve never experienced it, but it is a temporary condition. A good way to remove the fear factor is to understand what causes vaper’s tongue in the first place. The main causes include:
- Dehydration: Mouths have thousands of taste buds. For them to work properly, they require adequate saliva production. Vaping a lot can cause dry mouth, affecting the rate at which your tongue produces saliva. Less saliva means inhibited function of taste and smell receptors.
- Vaping the same flavor too often: If you’ve ever chewed flavored gum, you know that after chewing for a while, the flavor eventually goes away. Though this is only partially true and the flavor doesn’t actually go away, our taste buds “adjust.” This phenomenon is called “taste fatigue.” Food and beverage tasters (especially wine and coffee) deal with this often.
- Some theorize that our taste buds get overloaded with the flavor, which changes how strongly we can perceive it. Others believe that our brain can’t differentiate between multiple signals from our taste receptors that are too much alike. Regardless of which school of thought you subscribe to, it affects your taste buds the same way.
- Cigarette use: Cigarettes have a major effect on oral health. The first is that they inhibit taste and smell receptors. Taste and smell are strongly connected through our olfactory (responsible for smell) and gustatory (responsible for taste and flavor perception) systems. If one of the systems feels the effects, then both systems take a hit. It takes time for your taste and smell receptors to repair themselves if you’ve recently quit. So, don’t worry if this issue doesn’t resolve within two weeks.
- Some medications: If you are taking any medications, check the side effects. Some medications, like antidepressants, can affect the way you perceive taste and smell. If you’re taking a medication with dry mouth stated as a side effect, you have a higher chance of experiencing trouble tasting vape juice flavors after a while.
- Stress/anxiety: It’s not clear why, but high stress and anxiety levels affect taste buds and smell receptors. In some vapers, inhibited taste and smell is the first (and sometimes only) symptom they experience when it comes to stress and anxiety.
How do I get rid of vaper’s tongue?
The causes of vaper’s tongue are only one piece of the puzzle. There are thousands of taste buds on the tongue that are responsible for how we perceive flavors.
Have you ever burned your tongue on a hot beverage? If you have, you know that in a few days your tongue will heal. That’s because taste buds regenerate roughly every ten days. Vaper’s tongue has a similar healing time, but there are a few things you can do to help the process along.
- Hydrate: Since vaping a lot affects hydration and the production of saliva, hydrating can help combat this effect. Health professionals recommend drinking half an ounce of water per each pound you weigh, daily. If you’re vaping, doing this regularly is especially important as a preventative measure.
- If you’re experiencing vapor’s tongue and suspect that dehydration is the culprit, try taking a hydrating supplement to help your system recover. Coconut water is a good option as well as PowerAde, Pedialyte, or something similarly focused on rehydrating.
- Switch up the flavor: Similar to chewing bubble gum, if you want more flavor you need to switch it up. Rotate the flavors of vape juice you use to prevent your gustatory system from experiencing fatigue. Some vapers recommend a menthol flavor to reinvigorate the taste buds. Some prefer a flavorless vape juice. You can also use this as a preventative measure.
- Smell some coffee: If you’ve ever shopped for a perfume or cologne, you might have noticed small containers of coffee beans. Stores leave those out for customers to inhale between smelling new scents as a palate cleanser. Professional tasters in the food and beverage industry use this method, too.
- Suck on a lemon: Lemon juice is another palate refresher. Suck on a slice of lemon or drink fresh squeezed lemon juice. The bitterness makes the tongue more sensitive to taste.
- Practice dental hygiene: A healthy mouth is crucial to fully functioning taste buds. If you’ve skipped your oral health routine one too many times, this could be the cause of your diminished taste bud function. Brushing your teeth isn’t all you can do to improve your oral health. Floss, use a tongue scraper, and use mouthwash regularly.
Vaper’s tongue is an inconvenient condition, but it’s not permanent. Every vaper has experienced this at least once, so there’s no need to be afraid. You’re one step ahead of the game by knowing what you’re up against. Now, you can try to prevent vaper’s tongue by incorporating some of these tips into your routine. Hopefully, one of these suggestions will get you back to enjoying the vape juice flavors you love.