Can Vaping Damper Taste Buds?

By Kelly Burch 11/04/19

Medical experts say there are a couple factors that can contribute to the loss of the sense of taste among vape users.

person sticking tongue out after vaping
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Among the potentially-deadly consequences of vaping there is another effect that makes life a little less sweet: losing the ability to taste. 

According to Insider, many people who use vapes regularly report that they can’t taste as well as they could before they started vaping.  Dr. Erich Voigt, New York University Langone Health clinical associate professor of otolaryngology, said that this is an often unrecognized consequence of vaping. 

Voigt said losing the sensation of taste "isn't something people come into a specialist's office to fix because it's a more mild symptom and they deal on their own.”

What Contributes To The Loss Of Taste For Vapers?

Voigt said that there are two factors that can contribute to the loss of the sense of taste among vape users. The solvents that are used in both nicotine and cannabis vape cartridges can coat the tongue with residue. That makes it harder for your taste buds to connect with food that you’re eating, so you experience much less sensation. 

In addition, vape chemicals affect the nasal passages, which are actually very important for experiencing taste. 

"We need sense of smell to have a complex enjoyment of taste, so if the nose is congested, it brings sense of taste down,” Voigt said. 

Vape Tongue

However, unlike other, more long-term consequences of vaping, so-called “vape tongue” can be reversed, Voigt said. Most people will see their sense of taste return to normal within days or weeks of quitting vapes. 

There hasn’t been much research into how vaping affects taste. However, research has indicated that vaping can affect oral health overall. One 2016 study concluded that vaping can lead to “compromised oral health.”

Another study found that vaping can change the molecular structure of tissues in the mouth, which could have serious health consequences, including increasing the risk for cancer. 

“Molecular pathway and functional network analyses revealed that ‘cancer’ was the top disease associated with the deregulated genes in both e-cig users and smokers,” the study authors wrote. “We observed deregulation of critically important genes and associated molecular pathways in the oral epithelium of vapers that bears both resemblances and differences with that of smokers. Our findings have significant implications for public health and tobacco regulatory science.”

Vaping-Related Illnesses

People are becoming more cautious than ever about their vape use, after hundreds of people around the country have become sick with vaping-related illnesses. Voigt said that people need to realize that sensory and oral affects of vaping are dangerous as well. 

He said, ”My gut instinct is there will be long-term health consequences with continued use of vaping.”

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Kelly Burch writes about addiction and mental health issues, particularly as they affect families. Follow her on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn.