What The Hell Is This?
One day you’re sitting there and you take a hit of your favourite e-liquid and think to yourself, ‘what the hell?’ Because suddenly you don’t like the taste. Or, worse still, you can’t taste anything or that your tongue feels numb? No need to panic, but you have Vaper’s Tongue.
So, although it’s damned annoying, it’s not generally fatal or permanent for that matter. It is, a pain in the ass though, so let’s see what causes this to happen and how to fix it if it does happen to you.
First of all, what is Vaper’s Tongue?
While the term vaper’s tongue (sometimes called vaper’s fatigue) is used to cover a wide range of taste related ailments from going off an individual flavour that you used to like to losing taste for all foods and drinks.
While the first example is far more common, the second is potentially much more serious, with problems which include dehydration, vitamin deficiency or illness. In most cases, though, the condition is temporary and soon resolves itself (although, as we shall see, there are quite a few things you can do to speed up the return of your tastes buds!)
Your tongue will be covered with anything from 2000 to 10,000 gustatory calyculi, more commonly known as ‘taste buds’. If you are at the upper end of the scale 10,000 taste buds you’ll be known as a supertaster, and can potentially consider a career in fields where taste if valued, such as wine tasting, etc.
This basic difference in people’s taste buds might be the reason why some people preferred a particular e-liquid and others find it difficult to tell the difference.
These gustatory calyculi cells on your tongue are on a constant cycle, dying away and then regrowing. This cycle takes anywhere from ten days to two weeks.
Your taste buds are coded to test five different types of tastes:
Let’s Not Underestimate The Power of Smell!
Despite the thousands of taste buds which coat the tongue, smell plays an important part in our taste buds as well. Messages from your nose mingle with taste to create the flavour you enjoy when you eat, drink or vape.
In fact, researchers in one study asked tea tasters to block their noses. The tea tasters, renowned for their sense of taste, were shocked to discover that when they couldn’t smell, they were unable to distinguish between different teas. That’s because both your taste buds and sense of smell are vital in delivering what we perceive and experience as ‘taste’ to your brain.
You can reproduce the effects of this for yourself. Take a sip of tea or juice, and then repeat the process while holding your nose. You should find that you taste less when you hold your nose.
The Psychology of it all
Surprisingly, our tastes are not set in stone. It is well known that our tastes can and usually do change as we get older. There are a variety of factors that can change taste, including tasting something prior to becoming ill and seeing popular people enjoy a taste you didn’t previously like. Your taste can also be impacted by expectations, as the following experiments have shown:
In one experiment, the TV presenter Derren Brown opened a bottle of mint and told his audience that many of them might be able to smell it.
After many of the audience did smell the mint, he admitted that there was in fact no minty smell and the smell had been caused by a low frequency sound.
Then Derren told his audience to turn up the volume on their TV and expect the sound to trigger the taste, while tweeting a hashtag.
Only after many people claimed to smell the minty smell did Derren then drop the bombshell that there had been no sound and the minty smell had been created purely by expectations.
This raises intriguing questions for vapers. Does that e-liquid that you get from a boutique e-liquid house taste so great because it is great, or because of ramped up expectations, or could it because of the fancy packaging? And could you go off a favourite taste for psychological rather than medical reasons?
List Of Possible Causes
1. Vaping the same flavour for too long
While this is probably the least scientific of the reasons here, I have noticed that myself and other vapers frequently get vaper’s tongue after we have been vaping the same flavour for too long.
As we’ve seen, it can take up to two weeks for taste buds to regrow, so it could be a little time before you fully regain your sense of taste.
2. Recently switched from smoking
Although it is often mentioned on other blog posts regarding vaper’s tongue, I’m a little sceptical that this could cause your vaper’s tongue unless you are still smoking while vaping.
Yes, smoking can damage taste and smell (fortunately it’s not permanent). In fact, many vapers have reported coming down in the morning a couple of weeks after their last cigarette and being hit by the fresh smell of coffee brewing.
Honestly though, vaper’s tongue refers to suddenly losing your sense of taste, so unless you have just started smoking, it’s not likely to be a cause.
3. Damaged taste buds
Sadly, taste buds can get damaged and could lead to vaper’s tongue. Causes include smoking, infections, alcohol, extremely sour foods, spicy foods and some medications. Fortunately, taste buds heal themselves, although they do get weaker as you get older (which is one reason your tastes change so much in the transition from childhood to adulthood.)
Dehydration is another possible cause of vaper’s tongue. Other symptoms to watch out for are headaches, sore and dry mouth, tiredness and darkening of the urine. While a glass of water should help you, remember dehydration also means that you are also losing salts.
5. Mouth dryness
Dry mouth is caused by a lack of saliva, and you’re likely to experience it from time to time (especially as you get older). Unfortunately, it can also lead to a loss of taste.
6. Blocked nose
Got a blocked nose? That in itself could be the cause of your vaper’s tongue! As we’ve seen, your sense of smell works with your olfactory senses (sense of smell) to determine flavour. If your nose is blocked, it will affect how you taste, particularly with more complex flavours.
A number of medicines can also lead to a loss of taste. These include:
Some cancer drugs
If you have vaper’s tongue and are taking one of the above drugs, that might just be the reasons.
8. Anxiety and Stress
Anxiety can also cause tastes to change. And, oddly enough, you can experience changes in taste even when you do not realize that you are suffering from anxiety.
While we aren’t yet aware of all the reasons why taste buds change when you are stressed, some causes include:
Changes in taste buds, as your taste buds rebel when you are stressed
Breathing through your mouth, when you are suffering from anxiety, you tend to breath through your mouth, which can lead to different tastes (possibly because it affects your salivary glands and the bacteria in your mouth)
Increasing Sensitivity, sometimes when we are stressed we are simply more sensitive to bad tastes.
9. Old E-liquid
As e-liquids age, flavours can often degrade, sometimes leading to a peppery taste. In which case, you might not have a case of vaper’s tongue at all, but simply need to get some new e-juice!
10. Dirty Atomiser Contacts
There are many people out there who believe that Vaper’s tongue is caused by dirty atomiser contacts. So if you are suffering, it may be worth cleaning or replacing your atomiser/clearomiser.
How Do I Get Rid Of It?
1. Change the flavour
This is a very simple solution which often is all that’s needed! Simply change the flavour you are vaping, and return to it after a couple of weeks. Hopefully, it will then taste just as good as it used to.
2. Drink water
Drinking water addresses two potential problems of vaping: it clears the palate, and also helps to rehydrate you.
3. Use a stronger flavour
It may also be an idea to abandon the more subtle, refined vaping flavours, and use something a bit more down to earth and strong.
4. Inhale fresh coffee beans
Take a whiff of coffee beans in jute bag with coffee grinder and hot cup of coffee on wooden table. This is a technique used by professional wine tasters and perfume samplers. While I’ve no idea how it works, these experts believe that inhaling the scent of fresh coffee beans “resets” your sense of taste. A number of vapers have mentioned this has been a solution for their vaper’s tongue, so it’s got to be worth a try!
5. Suck on a lemon
Like coffee beans, sucking on a lemon is supposed to reset your taste buds. If lemons are a bit too sour for you, try lemon sorbet! If nothing else, it is a nice snack.
6. Mouth wash
There’s mixed thoughts on this. Some vapers think mouthwash helps to resolve vaper’s tongue, others think that it causes it! One to try if nothing else works.
7. Allow time
As we’ve discussed, damaged taste buds can take up to two weeks to recover. So give it a little time and you may find your tongue is back to normal!
8. Stop Smoking and Vaping at same time.
If you’re a dual vaper (you both smoke and vape) then, if you can, it might be an idea to try just vaping for a couple of weeks and seeing if that makes a difference. It could just give you that final push to make the final, full transition to electronic cigarettes.
Well, now then, we’ve covered what it is, how you might get it and how to get rid of it. So, all that’s left is to say, we hope you don’t suffer from it, but if you do, we hope this helped to educate and alleviate..