Vaping is a major concern in the United States. It is important to recognize the signs and symptoms of its use to understand how vaping can negatively affect someone.

Vaping is becoming increasingly popular, but it is not as harmless as some people may think. Vaping can lead to addiction. There are also many side effects of vaping. It is important to be able to recognize the side effects of vaping and get help before there are serious health consequences.

Article at a Glance:

It is important to understand the side effects of vaping. Vaping generally affects three main systems:

  • Mouth and airways: Irritation, cough and increased airway resistance
  • Heart and circulation: Chest pain, increased blood pressure and increased heart rate
  • Stomach: Vomiting and nausea

Other key points about vaping use include:

  • You can vape drugs other than nicotine, such as THC and CBD
  • It is possible to overdose on nicotine through vaping
  • Addiction to nicotine is also a serious side effect of vaping

Signs and Symptoms of Vaping Too Much

How can you tell if someone is vaping too much? One study has shown that glycol and glycerin, two ingredients commonly used in vape juices, are upper airway irritants that can cause irritation of the throat and mouth as well as trigger a dry cough. But perhaps the biggest symptom of vaping too much is developing an addiction to nicotine, the chemical most commonly vaped.

Vaping nicotine is addictive because of the way it works in your brain. Nicotine enters the brain quickly to activate reward pathways and cause the release of endorphins, your body’s natural pain-killers. Vaping is a particularly powerful way of exposing your brain to nicotine because the juices used have such a concentrated amount of nicotine. The liquid nicotine used in e-cigarettes is absorbed far more quickly compared to nicotine from tobacco in regular cigarettes. This effect makes nicotine poisoning a real possibility among people who use vape products. There are also many other side effects of vaping.

What are the Side Effects of Vaping?

Many side effects of vaping have been reported, including:

  • Dry mouth
  • Dizziness
  • Cough
  • Dry skin
  • Itchiness
  • Dry eyes
  • Nosebleeds

Other more serious, negative side effects of vaping have also started to emerge. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released an emergency report about the risk of severe pulmonary disease among e-cigarette users. As of August 27, 2019, 215 confirmed cases of severe pulmonary disease associated with using e-cigarettes had been reported across the country. Research has also found that using e-cigarette devices daily doubles an individual’s risk of experiencing a heart attack.

Although more research is needed to fully explore the long-term negative side effects of vaping, particularly the risk of cancer from exposure to organic volatile chemicals, vaping is definitely not without its risks.

Side Effects of Vaping Nicotine:

The biggest side effect of vaping nicotine is developing a nicotine addiction. Other side effects of nicotine include nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. High doses of nicotine may cause tachycardia, high blood pressure, seizures, coma and death.

Side Effects of Vaping Marijuana:

study compared the effects of vaping marijuana versus smoking marijuana. They found that vaping was associated with increased effects of the drug, increased incidence of adverse effects (just as anxiety and paranoia) and impairments in both cognition and motor abilities. One person in the study hallucinated after vaping marijuana oil.

The reason that there are increased negative side effects from vaping cannabis oil is that vaped marijuana contains a much higher concentration of the chemical responsible for that high, 9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Additionally, when you buy marijuana oils on the street, you never really know what chemicals you are actually getting, which increases the risks associated with vaping marijuana.

Side Effects of Vaping CBD:

Cannabidiol (CBD) vaporizers don’t contain nicotine or THC, but they can still cause side effects. There is minimal research on the side effects of vaping CBD, but some general side effects of vaping CBD that have been reported include:

  • Irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
Side Effects of Vaping Without Nicotine:

Vape juice doesn’t have to contain nicotine (or other drugs) to have side effects. There are also side effects of nicotine-free vapes. The flavorings found in vape juice themselves contain potentially dangerous chemicals such as diacetyl, acetylpropionyl and acetoin. The base fluid that makes up vape juice includes the ingredients glycol and glycerin, which cause irritation of the throat and mouth and can also cause a dry cough.

Can You Overdose From Vaping?

A Vaping overdose is possible. It is also possible to overdose on a nicotine vape. As of August 31, 2019, poison control centers handled 2,961 cases related to e-cigarettes and liquid nicotine this year alone.

Symptoms of a Nicotine Vaping Overdose

There are several key symptoms of a nicotine vaping overdose. The symptoms can be divided into two groups, early and late symptoms. If you suspect that you or someone you love has overdosed on nicotine, seek medical attention immediately.

Early symptoms (within the first 15 minutes to an hour following use) include:
  • Nausea
  • Stomachache
  • Excessive saliva
  • Quick, heavy breathing
  • Fast heartbeat
  • High blood pressure
  • Pale skin
  • Headache
  • Feeling dizzy, off-balance or confused
Late-phase symptoms (around 30 minutes to four hours later) include:
  • Diarrhea
  • Shallow breathing
  • Slowed heartbeat
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Lethargy
  • Feeling weak
  • Experiencing slow reflexes or the inability to control muscles
  • Seizures

Thomas Christiansen
Editor – Thomas Christiansen
With over a decade of content experience, Tom produces and edits research articles, news and blog posts produced for Advanced Recovery Systems. Read more
Brooke Dulka
Medically Reviewed By – Dr. Brooke Dulka, PHD
Brooke Nichole Dulka is a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Department of Psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She received her PhD in Biological Psychology at the University of Tennessee in August 2018. Read more

Callahan-Lyon, P. “Electronic cigarettes: human health effects.” Tobacco Control, April 14, 2014. Accessed September 8, 2019.

National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Is Nicotine Addictive?” January 2018. Accessed September 8, 2019.

Farsalinos, Konstantinos; et al. “Nicotine absorption from electronic cigarette use: comparison between experienced consumers (vapers) and naïve users (smokers).” Scientific Reports, June 17, 2015. Accessed September 8, 2019.

Schier, JG, Meiman, JG, Layden, J, et al. “Severe Pulmonary Disease Associated with Electronic-Cigarette–Product Use — Interim Guidance.”  MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep, September 6, 2019. Accessed September 8, 2019.

Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education. “First evidence of long-term health damage from ecigs: Smoking E-Cigarettes Daily Doubles Risk of Heart Attacks.” February 24, 2018. Accessed September 8, 2019.

Rubinstein, Mark; Delucchi, Kevin; Benowitz, Neal; Ramo, Danielle. “Adolescent Exposure to Toxic Volatile Organic Chemicals From E-Cigarettes.” Pediatrics, April 2018. Accessed September 7, 2019.

MedicineNet. “Vaping (e-Cigarettes) Side Effects, Health Risks, Addiction.” December 8, 2017. Accessed September 8, 2019.

Spindle; Tory; et al. “Acute Effects of Smoked and Vaporized Cannabis in Healthy Adults Who Infrequently Use Cannabis: A Crossover Trial.” JAMA Netw Open, November 30, 2018. Accessed September 8, 2019.

Allen, JG; et al. “Flavoring chemicals in e-cigarettes: diacetyl, 2,3-pentanedione, and acetoin in a sample of 51 products, including fruit-, candy-, and cocktail-flavored e-cigarettes.” Environ Health Perspect, 2016. Accessed September 8, 2019.

American Association of Poison Control Centers. “E-Cigarettes and Liquid Nicotine.” August 31, 2019. Accessed September 8, 2019.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.