VAPES have been hailed as an alternative to smoking that can help people stub out cigarettes for good.
The devices are still considered to be “substantially safer” than tobacco, according to the NHS.
But experts warn that vaping can have repercussions on your health, from lung and heart disease to tooth decay and damage to sperm.
And after a concerning rise in teens picking up the habit, Rishi Sunak unveiled plans to ban disposable vapes and dish out fines on shops illegally selling vapes to kids.
The PM also promised to curb dessert-like flavours that appeal to youngsters, such as cotton candy, watermelon ice and cola, after it was revealed that the number of kids vaping tripled in three years.
With all this furore around e-cigs, you might be thinking of kicking the habit.
While that’s great, and something that should be encouraged, Dr Ali Kermanizadeh, senior lecturer in clinical biochemistry and toxicology at the University of Derby, told vape users to be prepared for some withdrawal symptoms.
Though you’re not puffing tobacco smoke, you’re still inhaling nicotine vapour every time you take a drag on a vape.
“Nicotine is one of the most addictive substances on the planet,” Dr Kermanizadeh told Sun Health.
“Hence, the withdrawal symptoms following discontinuation of vaping can be challenging.
“For most individuals, withdrawal symptoms disappear after four weeks, although for some these may last longer.”
The expert did note, however, that the symptoms aren’t constant and “often come and go over time”.
According to Dr Kermanizadeh, the most common symptoms of nicotine withdrawal are:
- Cravings that may be strong at first, but usually only last a few minutes – if you can resist them initially, they’ll become less frequent over time.
- Headaches are very common within the first 48 hours of nicotine withdrawal.
- Irritability, anxiety, and depression – this emotional commotion tends to pass within the first two weeks of nicotine withdrawal.
- Concentration issues, general restlessness, and poor sleeping habits.
- Increase in appetite and initial weight gain – this side effect of nicotine withdrawal may last several weeks.
You might also experience some light-headedness or constipation, though these are less common symptoms.
Dr Kermanizadeh said you’ll likely also notice some physiological changes the longer you abstain from vaping.
Here’s everything that happens to your body in the hours, days, weeks, months and years after you throw away your vapes.
Within the first four hours, the effects of nicotine will wear off and you’ll begin to crave a dose, Dr Kermanizadeh said.
Nicholas Hopkinson, professor of respiratory medicine at Imperial College and honorary consultant physician at Royal Brompton Hospital, said it’s good to plan what to do when these cravings take over, even though they’ll be short-lived.
“When cravings to vape come, they can be expected to last 15 minutes or so, so doing something else as a distraction is a sensible idea,” he told Sun Health.
This could be anything from going to the cinema to reading a book to trying an exercise class.
6 to 12 hours
Within six to 12 hours of stopping vaping, your heart rate will begin to slow down and your blood pressure will stabilise, Dr Kermanizadeh said.
But at the 12-hour mark, you might also begin to feel restless, sad or depressed.
1 to 3 days
After going a full day without your nicotine hit, you’ll probably notice an increase in your appetite – as well as your feelings of irritability, Dr Kermanizadeh said.
It’s also likely that you’ll begin experiencing some headaches and increased anxiety.
Over days one to three of no vaping, all the nicotine will be purged from your blood.
After one week, most of the worst withdrawal symptoms should be a mere memory.
At this point, there should also be a “noticeable enhancement in [your] sense of taste and smell”, Dr Kermanizadeh added.
2 to 4 weeks
Within two to four weeks, your appetite should go back to normal.
You might also feel peppier, as any symptoms of depression and anxiety start to improve.
2 to 3 months
Vaping can take a toll on your lung capacity.
But after two or three months of no vapes, any symptoms of coughing and wheezing should be significantly reduced, according to Dr Kermanizadeh.
At this time, you should also see an improvement in blood circulation to your extremities.
After a few months, it’s also likely you’ll see a difference in your teeth and mouth.
Nyree Whitley, chief clinicial Officer at mydentist, told Sun Health that research shows vaping “can cause inflammation in the mouth – which can, over time, lead to gum disease and an increased chance of developing mouth cancer”.
“There have also been reports of ‘vape tongue,’ a condition in which people lose their taste temporarily as a result of vaping, and the nicotine in vapes can also cause dry mouth and increased levels of bacteria, in addition to yellowing teeth,” she added.
Nyree said: “When you quit vaping, you can expect your overall oral health to improve.
“In most cases, inflammation will ease and your immune responses will improve within a few months, leading to healthier gums and oral health and a decreased risk of developing mouth cancer.
“However, if you already have gum disease as a result of vaping or smoking, it may be harder to reverse the effects.”
6 to 9 months
At this point, you might notice you’re breathing more easily as your lung capacity increases.
This should make things like climbing stairs, running for the bus and exercise much more pleasant.
Prof Hopkinson told Sun Health: “Although much less harmful than smoking, it is likely that long term vaping over years will cause lung problems.
“So quitting vaping will reduce the risk of that happening, especially for children and young people whose lungs are still developing.”
In the long-term, quitting vaping can also reduce the risk of you developing other serious medical conditions, Dr Kermanizadeh added.
These include “diseases related to the pulmonary, cardiovascular, and respiratory systems, such as heart attacks, strokes, and cancer”, he explained.
How can I manage withdrawal symptoms?
Managing withdrawal symptoms will differ from person to person.
But Dr Dr Kermanizadeh suggested a few strategies to help you resist the urge to vape again:
- Making social plans – staying busy and distracted is believed to be highly effective
- Spending time with non-smokers/vapers can also be effective
- Avoid alcohol consumption – alcohol greatly enhances nicotine receptivity in the brain and can disinhibits you
“The concomitant effects of nicotine and alcohol are such that avoidance of alcohol consumption during a quit attempt is highly advisable,” he warned.
Meanwhile, Prof Hopkinson stressed: “The key message about quitting vaping is not to go back to smoking!”
Source: The Sun