Many people report headaches after vaping, which are generally mild to moderate and may last several hours. Vaping headaches have numerous causes, such as high nicotine content.

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The safety and long-term health effects of using e-cigarettes or other vaping products still aren’t well known. In September 2019, federal and state health authorities began investigating an outbreak of a severe lung disease associated with e-cigarettes and other vaping products. We’re closely monitoring the situation and will update our content as soon as more information is available.

While the research on the long-term health effects of vaping is ongoing, experts agree that it’s generally bad for your health.

Headaches are a commonly reported side effect of vaping.

Not everyone will experience a headache after vaping, but they’re very common, especially among people who are new to vaping or already prone to headaches.

Most people who experience vaping headaches have dull pain, but symptoms can vary. In fact, some people report that vaping triggers more severe migraine headaches, although more research needs to be done in this area.

In some cases, a headache is the only unpleasant side effect you’ll experience after vaping, but in other times you may have other side effects along with it. These can include:

  • dry mouth
  • increased anxiety
  • insomnia
  • cough
  • throat irritation
  • lightheadedness
  • shortness of breath

These side effects could make your vaping headache harder to treat or make the pain feel more intense.

There are several reasons that vaping can cause headaches in some people. One of the most likely causes is the nicotine content. Nicotine affects the blood vessels in your brain, causing them to narrow. This reduces blood flow to your brain and can cause headaches in some people. Since nicotine is a stimulant, it may also make some people’s nerves more sensitive to pain.

Even though vaping products may contain less nicotine than some other tobacco products, it’s still more than enough to give some people a headache. Plus, the nicotine content varies widely between different vaping and e-cigarette brands. That means it’s easy to buy a new product and be caught off guard by the amount of nicotine it contains.

Nicotine isn’t the only cause of vaping headaches. Other causes include:

  • Dehydration. Two of the main ingredients in vaping liquid, propylene glycol, and vegetable glycerin, can lead to dehydration. This can give you a dry mouth feeling and, in many cases, a headache.
  • Propylene glycol. Propylene glycol is a preservative that’s also found in products like coffee creamer and ice cream. In addition to its known dehydration effects, some people report a sensitivity to propylene glycol which can lead to headaches.
  • E-liquid ingredients. The ingredients in vaping cartridges include many things like nicotine, propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin, flavoring, and others. The flavoring and other ingredients vary by brand and might be causing your headache. Just like some scents or spices can give some people headaches, the flavorings and other ingredients used by some vaping liquid makers can cause headaches.
Vaping: A health crisis

Vaping is bad for your health. There are many reasons to quit vaping. Here are some of the health risks that may be associated with vaping.

  • The CDC found that 99 percent of the e-cigarettes sold in the United States likely contained nicotine
  • There’s an increased risk for intracranial aneurysm and bleeding in the brain if you vape or smoke products with nicotine.
  • Nicotine can harm brain development during adolescence and early adulthood.
  • You may be exposed to other potentially harmful chemicals that may be present in vaping products.
  • People who vape products with nicotine are more likely to smoke cigarettes.

The best way to stop vaping headaches is to quit vaping. But there are some steps you can take that may make it less likely you’ll get a headache:

  • Vape in moderation. The more nicotine you put in your body, the more likely you are to have side effects, including headaches. Vaping less often or in smaller doses will put less nicotine into your system, making it less likely you’ll get a headache.
  • Drink plenty of water. Since dehydrating is a concern, having water on hand is a good idea. Drink more water than you normally would to combat the dehydrating effects of vaping.
  • Read the labels on your e-liquid. Different brands contain different amounts of both nicotine and propylene glycol. Using a lower nicotine or lower propylene glycol e-liquid could reduce your chances of having a headache.
  • Check the flavors. Flavoring is part of the appeal of vaping, but it can also cause headaches. If you’ve been getting a headache after vaping, try switching to a different flavor, and see if that makes a difference.
Finding help to quit vaping

It can be hard to stop vaping. If you’re trying to quit, here or organizations that can help:

Most headaches can be treated at home, but you should see a doctor if your headaches are frequent or severe. You should also see a doctor if you have:

  • confusion, dizziness, or blurry vision with your headaches
  • vomiting or diarrhea along with your headaches
  • a fever along with your headaches
  • a stiff neck along with your headaches
  • a headache that’s persistent or getting worse
  • new headache symptoms you haven’t had in the past
  • taken OTC medication more than 2 days a week or taken more than the recommended dose
  • headaches that interfere with your life
  • headaches triggered by coughing, changes in elevation, or sex
  • a headache that began after a head injury
Seek emergency medical care

Get immediate medical care, call 911, or have someone take you to the nearest emergency room if you:

  • have a headache or migraine attack that’s the worst one you’ve ever had
  • lose consciousness
  • experience serious vision loss with your headache
  • have a headache that lasts for more than 72 hours
  • have neurological symptoms like dizziness, numbness, weakness, or speech changes

There are a few things you can do to treat a vaping headache. Generally, headaches from vaping are mild enough that you can treat that at home. Remedies include:

  • Drink water. Since dehydration is often the cause of your vaping headache, rehydration can help. Try drinking water or sports drinks. Avoid beverages like coffee and alcohol since they can make you more dehydrated.
  • Rest. A quick nap or even laying down for the night can help relieve your headache.
  • Take an over-the-counter pain (OTC) reliever. A pain reliever like Tylenol (acetaminophen) or Advil (ibuprofen) can help take down the pain of a headache. OTC pain relievers are generally safe to take if you have nicotine in your system, but it’s a good idea to be cautious about doing this too often.
  • Try an ice pack or cold compress. An ice pack or cold compress may help reduce the pain in your head.

Many people report that vaping gives them headaches. This can be caused by nicotine, dehydration, or the chemicals in e-liquid.

It can help to use a lower nicotine e-liquid and to drink plenty of water when you vape. If your headaches persist, your best option may be to stop vaping.