Has this happened to you? You’re sitting outside a sunny cafe, or on your front porch, when all of a sudden you notice you’ve forgotten what your E-cig is supposed to taste like? In fact, you realize, it seems you haven’t tasted the thing in quite some time. You scratch your head, shake the E-cig and maybe even open it to make sure it’s not empty. If this has happened to you, don’t worry. You’re not alone. As we will see, this isn’t a problem with your e-liquid. It has more to do with the limitations of the human senses.
WHAT IS VAPER’S TONGUE?
Vaper’s tongue—or vaper’s fatigue—refers to a wide range of taste and smell phenomena that might occur when using E-cigs over a prolonged period. Most often, the terms are used to describe the scenario above in which you lose your ability to taste your favourite e-liquid. It is sometimes used to refer to the loss of ability to taste any food and drink, though this is often more due to illness and is unrelated to E-cig use—i.e., coincidental.
The first type of vaper’s fatigue is more common, and is harmless. The second is more serious, and may be caused by:
Typically, this second type of vaper’s fatigue is temporary, and again, usually has nothing to do with E-cig use.
HOW THE SENSE OF TASTE WORKS
The tongue is covered with between 2,000 and 10,000 taste buds. These tiny organs are on the tongue, the inner cheeks, soft palate, and the epiglottis. They contain taste receptors capable of detecting the five major tastes: salty, sweet, sour, bitter and umami—the latter of which is the “savoury” taste. When combined in the mouth, these tastes create the flavours we associate with particular foods. Like skin cells, your flavor receptors are in a constant cycle of death and rebirth. Every 10 to 14 days, the average person replaces an entire set.
Individuals with many thousands of taste buds are known as “super tasters.” These people often find work as beer, tea and wine tasters—even e-Liquid tasters. They can differentiate between more flavours than the average person. It’s not so bad for the rest of us, though. Most people can enjoy an extremely wide range of flavours.
HOW THE NOSE WORKS
The nose serves as an important air inlet for the body, allowing air to reach the lungs when the mouth is otherwise engaged. This trait is especially helpful to suckling infants. At the back of the nose is the olfactory mucosa. The mucous produced here allows odor molecules to dissolve so they can come into contact with the olfactory neurons. When these specialized neurons detect an odor molecule, they generate a sensation that the person perceives as a smell.
However, that’s only part of the story. The brain combines data from the nose and mouth. Consequently, you can only enjoy your favourite treats when both your nose and mouth are functioning well. You can test this with any strong-flavoured drink. Take a drink of, say, orange juice. Then hold your nose and taste it again. You should find the flavour altered. You can test this while vaping, but take care: if you inhale too quickly, you may cough.
Researchers have found that as the body ages, the tongue’s ability to detect taste changes. This is why children who hate vegetables in childhood find them tasty later in life. Similarly, you may find the taste of certain foods changing before you feel the first symptoms of a cold or flu.
NOW LET’S LOOK AT THE POSSIBLE CAUSES OF VAPER’S TONGUE.
1. You vape the same flavour repeatedly.
If you smell the same thing repeatedly, you’ll find that the nose seems to become weaker. A similar phenomenon occurs with the taste buds.
Find another flavour you enjoy just as much and alternate.
2. You recently quit smoking.
Smoking damages the taste buds. For the first two weeks after you switch, expect some vaper’s tongue.
Give it time.
3. You have damaged taste buds.
Other things can damage the taste buds: alcohol, illness, sour foods, spicy foods and medications.
You could eliminate one at a time and see if that helps.
4. You may be suffering from dehydration.
Loss of taste is a classic symptom of severe dehydration. Other symptoms include headache, sore throat, dry mouth, fatigue and dark urine.
5. You may have a nose blockage.
Again, taste relies on the sense of smell. If your nose is blocked due to cold or other illness, you may experience loss in taste.
Try a humidifier.
The effects of anxiety can be subtle. One way stress can affect you is to change your sense of taste. When you’re stressed, you may breathe through your mouth more than usual. This changes the bacterial make-up of your mouth, which can affect the way things taste.
Meditation has been shown to combat stress effectively.
7. Your e-liquid may be out of date.
Out-of-date e-liquids taste different than fresh e-liquids. Some vapers have reported that out-of-date e-liquid tastes like pepper.
Check your e-liquid!
8. Your Atomizer contacts may need to be cleaned.
Your E-Cig works by heating the e-liquid to where it becomes vapour. Over time, carbon and other elements build up on the contacts. These chemicals aren’t impurities, since they were part of the e-liquid in the first place—they won’t hurt you. But they can affect how your E-cig tastes.
If you’re using anything but a disposable, you should clean the contacts occasionally.
IN ADDITION, YOU CAN TRY THESE SIMPLE SOLUTIONS:
Don’t dual vape. If you’re still smoking, consider making the jump to E-cigs. As we’ve seen, the smoke damages the taste buds.
Temporarily switch to a flavourless e-liquid. This will give your taste buds a break. Switch for up to two weeks, or keep a vile handy so you switch throughout the day.
Use a tongue scraper and/or mouthwash. A tongue scraper will remove Candida and bacteria, both of which can affect your perception of taste.
Sometimes its worth just taking abit of a break or switch to a different type of e liquid. In extreme cases the high sugar content in e liquids can help yeast to form in the mouth, which is commonly know in medicine as oral thrush, or vapers thrush if you get it in your mouth from vaping too much. Vapers thrush is a yeast infection in the mouth caused by the Candida albicans fungus. Symptoms of vapers thrush include sore, white patches in the mouth, an unpleasant taste in the mouth, a burning sensation affecting the tongue and problems swallowing. If you're worried you should speak with a doctor...our advice is to go easy on the vaping for a while before things get too bad. Drink plenty of water. Use an antifungal mouthwash.