If you suffer from dry skin or dry sinuses, you might use a humidifier to introduce more moisture into the air around you. Those little puffs of vapor are a lifesaver for many during those dry winter months. So you might think that inhaling vapor from an e-cigarette would have the same humidifying effect on your mouth and throat. In reality… that couldn’t be further from the truth. Vaping actually can cause dehydration.
Why Does Vaping Cause Dehydration?
When I initially switched from smoking to vaping, one of the first things I noticed was a dry mouth. This defied my expectations completely. “It’s just vapor,” I thought. But the aerosol produced when vaping e-liquid is far different than water vapor. That’s because, well, e-liquid isn’t water.
E-liquid comprises of a blend of propylene glycol (PG) and vegetable glycerin (VG), plus nicotine and flavorings. When it comes to vaping dehydration, PG and VG are the culprits here.
PG and VG are both humectants, which means they adhere to water molecules. When they come into contact with saliva in your mouth, throat, and sinuses, they soak it up like a sponge. Now, this might be good if you’ve got a severe drooling problem, but for the rest of us, it causes dehydration.
What Are the Symptoms of Dehydration?
Did you know that the human body consists of about 60% water? This means that the systems of the body need to be constantly replenished with water in order to function. Because of this, the symptoms of dehydration can present themselves in numerous ways. Here are some examples:
·Dark undereye circles
·Decreased urine volume and frequency
The Dangers of Dehydration
You might believe that dehydration is a minor issue– “Oh, I’m just thirsty. No big deal.” But the fact is, depending on the environment that they’re in, humans can die of dehydration in a matter of days.
Now, the likelihood of dying from vaping hydration alone is pretty low, if nonexistent. Your survival instincts will kick in and basically force you to drink water before this happens. Remember that episode of SpongeBob where he was stuck in Sandy’s dome? Yeah, it’ll be like that.
But still, it’s important to be aware of the dangers of severe and chronic dehydration, at least just to demonstrate how serious of an issue it really is.
If you suspect that you’re suffering from this condition, immediately seek medical treatment.As you’ll see below, the effects are pretty chilling– you really don’t want to delay.
Effects of Chronic Dehydration
This is what can happen if you experience ongoing or recurring bouts of dehydration:
·High blood pressure
·Kidney and bladder infections
·Frequent sinus and respiratory issues
·Dry skin, premature aging, psoriasis, or unexplained rash
·Muscle pain and weakness
·Urinary tract infections
Effects of Severe Dehydration
Here are some of the possible effects of acute or severe levels of dehydration:
·Low blood pressure
·Wrinkled, inelastic skin
·Seizures or convulsions
·Hypovolemic (low blood volume) shock
·Kidney stones or kidney failure
Do note again that you are very unlikely to reach this level of dehydration when vaping, unless you have an underlying medical problem or are in extreme conditions (e.g. lost in a desert). My intention isn’t to fear-monger or suggest that these are realistic vaping side effects. But dehydration, if not addressed, is extremely harmful to your health.
Vaping Dehydration: How to Prevent It
The good news about vaping dehydration is that it’s very easy to mitigate. A few puffs of vapor isn’t going to make you look like SpongeBob in the image above. You just need to put in a bit more effort to stay hydrated than you did before vaping. And here are some tips for doing so:
Drink More Water
I know it’s obvious advice, but drinking more water really is the best way to stay hydrated when vaping. While no US governmental organization provides guidelines for water intake, the UK’s National Health Service recommends 6 to 8 glasses a day. Since you’re consuming a humectant, drink more than that. Drink as much as you feel you need. Try carrying a water bottle or even a gallon jug with you.
Yeah, yeah, water’s boring– I hear you, flavor chasers. But there are plenty of ways to up your water intake without sacrificing taste. You could try using a flavor enhancer, such as Mio. Or you could make “infused water” by adding fruits, herbs, and veggies to your bottle of water.
Avoid Alcohol and Caffeinated Beverages
Alcohol and caffeinated drinks (soda, tea, coffee, etc.) also contribute to dehydration. For this reason, you should avoid drinking them while vaping so you don’t double up on the drying effects. It’s like chasing a Beefy 5 Layer from Taco Bell with a glass of Metamucil… you just don’t do it.
That’s not to say you can never pair a vape with your morning coffee. It’s a wonderful combo, I know. Just be sure to have a glass of water handy so that you don’t start your day off on the wrong foot.
Eat Water-Rich Fruits and Veggies
There are plenty of fruits and vegetables that consist mostly of water. Incorporating these into your diet is a yummy way to stave off dehydration. Here is a list of the top 7 most water-rich fruits and veggies to snack on:
Adjust Your PG/VG Ratio
As I mentioned earlier, propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin are both humectants. I wasn’t able to find any concrete evidence that one was more hygroscopic (able to absorb water) than the other. But the anecdotal consensus on the Internet seems to be that VG is less drying than PG, particularly in the sinuses.
So, if a high-PG e-liquid is making you dehydrated, it would be worth trying one with more VG. Additionally, PG sensitivities are relatively common, and one of the symptoms of a PG allergy is dehydration. If your coil and atomizer support an e-liquid with a higher VG ratio, it’s worth a shot.
Avoid Vaping When You’re Experiencing Fluid Loss
Just like with dehydrating beverages, don’t combine vaping with conditions or activities that cause fluid loss. Here are some situations where you should put the vape down until you’ve rehydrated yourself:
·During or after strenuous physical activity, such as exercise or manual labor
·When experiencing bouts of fever, vomiting, or diarrhea
·While in extreme heat without drinking water
·When you have illnesses or are taking medications that cause dehydration
So, while vaping does indeed cause dehydration, you don’t need to stress too hard over it! Simply following the preventative tips above will be enough to protect you from the scary effects of dehydration. The most important tip of all is to drink plenty of water– just do it! And try to stay out of hot, dry deserts and underwater squirrel domes, okay? Until next time, vapers!