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What Does Vaping Feel Like?

January 24, 2024

Vaping has become increasingly popular in recent years, with more and more people choosing to vape instead of smoke. But for those who have never tried it before, the sensation and experience of vaping may seem strange and unfamiliar.

Learn what vaping tastes and feels like, better understand the nicotine buzz effect, and learn about the physical health risks and potential side effects that come along with it.

What Does Vaping Taste Like?

Vaping can have a variety of tastes because the experience largely depends on what flavour e-juice is used in the device. You can find vape devices in various flavours, from sweet and fruity to minty or tobacco-like flavours. Different e-liquids can also taste different depending on the ingredients used, making it a customizable experience that can be different every time if preferred. Some e-liquid flavourings may be sourced from essential oils, while others may be set in grain alcohol. All vape juices are made with food-grade natural or artificial flavours.

Some people may not enjoy the taste of certain e-liquids, so it may require trying a few to determine what tastes and flavours best suit your preferences. Some may prefer the sweetness of flavours such as bubblegum, while others may favour something that feels minty and fresh on the throat, and still others may like vape flavours that resemble traditional tobacco products.

What Does Vaping Feel Like?

Vaping feels like inhaling a warm cloud of flavourful vapour into the mouth. Once inhaled, it may feel familiar if you currently or previously smoked cigarettes. The vapour will move through the throat and down into the airways that lead to the lungs, though it may feel a bit smoother than cigarette smoke because it's vapour rather than actual smoke.

If the sensation of vapour or smoke moving into your respiratory system is new to you, it may cause a feeling that you need to cough.

Once the vapour has been taken into the lungs, you may feel a buzzing effect caused by the nicotine unless you're using a vape without nicotine.

The Nicotine Buzz Effect

Nicotine is the second-most popular stimulant around the world – caffeine takes the #1 spot. Its popularity is likely due to its buzz effect after using it.

So, what is a nicotine buzz, and what does it feel like? First, let's understand where nicotine comes from in vape devices.

Similar to traditional cigarettes, nicotine is found in most vape liquids and has an effect that's felt in the body.

The buzz from nicotine can create a temporary feeling of pleasure and energy. However, once it fades, it can lead to feeling tired or a bit down.

A person's weight, height, and age, as well as the dosage of nicotine, will all play a role in how it affects them.

A nicotine buzz can also lead to one or more of these potential effects, especially for those who have not vaped nicotine before:

  • headache
  • dizziness or feeling lightheaded
  • racing heart
  • nausea
  • cramping stomach
  • weakness
  • rapid breathing
  • elevated mood
  • decreased appetite
  • increased blood pressure

On the other hand, those who use nicotine regularly start to build up a tolerance to it, leading to different potential short-term effects, including:

  • mild stimulation
  • increased concentration
  • relaxation
  • temporary reduction in the urge to use a vape

Why the Nicotine Buzz Happens

Nicotine enters the bloodstream and begins to search for specific receptors to bind to, known as nicotinic cholinergic receptors. When nicotine binds with them, these receptors release neurotransmitters and hormones, including dopamine. The release of these neurotransmitters stimulates the brain's reward centre, creating a feeling of pleasure.

When that happens, the blood vessels begin to tighten, and the heart rate rises - this is what creates the lightheaded feeling of a nicotine buzz.

A nicotine buzz is not always enjoyable. Some people may also experience disorientation and nausea, especially those who do not consume nicotine often.

The good news is that a nicotine buzz doesn't tend to last too long. Some may last a few seconds; others may last a few minutes or up to half an hour.

Regular nicotine users, including vape users, may notice that the nicotine from their vape devices stops giving them a buzz. This happens as the body builds up a tolerance to the chemical. Once all of the body's nicotine receptors are full, additional nicotine won't create a further "buzz" effect because there will be no extra dopamine hit.

Different Person, Different Experience

The experience of vaping doesn't always feel the same for everyone, however. Some people use vaporizers because they enjoy the feeling of the stimulated production of dopamine, the "feel-good" chemical in the brain (caused by nicotine) that can create temporary feelings of well-being and relaxation. Others may feel differently, noticing an increase in their attention also caused by nicotine.

This is likely because it acts as a stimulant in lower doses, while a larger dose can have a sedating effect.

Still, if you're using nicotine for the first time, you're much more likely to experience a nicotine buzz.

Physical Health Risks and Side Effects

Using e-cigarettes isn't without health risks and potential side effects. Regular use of these devices can cause cardiovascular, brain, and lung impacts – and too much nicotine from vapes can potentially lead to nicotine poisoning.

Cardiovascular Risks and Side Effects

Using vape devices can cause cardiovascular side effects and increase someone's chance of a cardiovascular event. NIH studies show that long-term use of electronic cigarettes can impact the body's blood vessel function significantly and cause damage to the blood vessels, increasing the risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

Brain Impacts

E-cigarette use can also cause negative impacts on the brain, especially for youth or adolescents. The US Surgeon Generalwarns that nicotine can be more harmful to an adolescent brain than a fully developed adult brain that reaches maturity after the mid-20s. Younger brains can be more sensitive to its effects, leading to a higher risk of addiction and harm to the developing brain.

Lung Impacts

E-cigarette aerosols can also contain chemicals, which may harm the lungs. While the number of toxic substances is less than the 7,000 found in cigarettes, we don't have enough research or data to understand the long-term implications of the toxins found in vapes on the lungs.

Nicotine Poisoning

Further, nicotine poisoning is possible if too much nicotine is taken, potentially causing side effects including:

  • Abdominal cramps
  • Fainting or lack of responsiveness
  • Difficult, rapid, or stopped breathing
  • Mouth burning sensation
  • Drooling
  • Seizures
  • Depression
  • Headache
  • Muscle twitching
  • Heart palpitations
  • Weakness
  • Vomiting

In the case of nicotine poisoning, you should always call poison control or go to the emergency room for care. 

How Does Vaping Compare to Smoking Cigarettes?

According to the UK Health Security Agency, vaping is far less harmful than smoking cigarettes and can be a potential way to help cigarette smokers quit for good. However, they're not without risk of physical health impacts and side effects.

While vaping exposes its users to far fewer toxic substances than smoking because there's no combustion involved, it still exposes users to some toxins. Since vaping is still relatively new, we don't fully understand the long-term health risks and side effects that may create.

A study published in the Multidisciplinary Respiratory Medicine Journal shows that the effects of vaping over time may cause the airways to constrict, leading to an increased risk of wheezing and other respiratory symptoms similar to those seen in people who smoke cigarettes.

It also found that vaping acutely increases resting heart rate and diastolic blood pressure, similar to the effects of smoking cigarettes but still less pronounced. It suggests that a chronic e-cigarette user has an increased risk of arterial stiffness and associated adverse cardiovascular outcomes.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Does Vaping for the First Time Feel Like?

Vaping for the first time may feel like inhaling a warm vapour cloud, and as it makes its way into the airways, it may also lead to the feeling of a nicotine head buzz, which can make you feel lightheaded, weak, or cause a racing heart.

Final Thoughts

Vaping can feel different for everyone. If you're new to vaping, the first experience may feel different from subsequent ones as your body becomes accustomed to nicotine. There may be less nicotine buzz, or you may feel the effects of the nicotine-caused dopamine stimulation in the brain.

While using a vape exposes you to fewer harmful chemicals than smoking, vaping still comes with several physical risks and side effects that you should be aware of. If you suspect nicotine poisoning, always seek emergency medical care.

If you're looking for your next vape, perhaps in a new flavour you've yet to try, check out RELX's extensive vape collection.




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