Overcoming Flavor Fatigue
Have you ever been vaping your favorite e-juice flavor and suddenly notice you don’t like it anymore? Or even worse, found you can’t taste anything? Then, my friend, you may have the dreaded vaper’s flavor fatigue or sometimes called vaper’s tongue. (If you want to be specific, we know it’s really olfactory fatigue – hold your horses and we’ll get to that later!) Before all the hypochondriacs hop into their cars and floor it to the E.R., you should know that vaper’s tongue isn’t fatal, nor is it an eternal condition. It will eventually go away on its own after a few hours, days or weeks (yup, we said weeks), but we’ll explain the things you can do to help it go away more quickly and to help prevent it from happening to you again.
Your taste buds certainly play a role. Your tongue is covered with anything from 2000 to 10,000 taste buds (or if you want to get fancy—gustatory calyculi). This difference in taste buds might also explain why some people prefer steeped e-liquid and others find it hard to tell the difference. These cells in your taste buds are on a constant cycle, dying away and then regrowing. This cycle can take anything from 10 days to 2 weeks.
Your tongue isn’t really the only problem. Most people refer to this as vaper’s tongue because it seems like you’re tasting the juices with your tongue. The truth of the matter is that it’s actually olfactory fatigue – simply put, your smeller’s got issues that can’t be solved with tissues. Sure, you taste a bit of the vapor with your tongue, but your sense of smell is the primary way you experience the “flavor” of your e-juice. You know how when you have a stuffy nose, and the food you’re eating tastes muted? The same thing happens with vaper’s tongue, except your nose does a lot more work than your tongue when you’re vaping, so it’s even worse.
Why is this happening to me?
Well, it could be a number of reasons. Many new vapers, who recently made the switch from smoking cigarettes to vaping, will get vaper’s fatigue. When you smoke cigarettes, your sense of taste and smell aren’t nearly as strong compared to non-smokers. After you quit smoking for a week or two, you might have discovered just how bad cigarettes really smell or noticed just how awesome the foods you normally eat actually taste. When you quit smoking, your brain isn’t used to the huge upgrade to your senses, so it freaks out a bit and over compensates – by turning them way down (or even off).
Unfortunately, taste buds can get damaged from smoking, infections, alcohol, extremely sour or spicy foods or even medications. Fortunately taste buds heal themselves, although they do get weaker as you get older (which is one reason your tastes change as you age.) As we’ve seen, it can take up to two weeks for taste buds to regrow, so it could take a little time before you fully regain your sense of taste.
Vaper’s fatigue also happens if you don’t switch juices often enough, so you develop a (temporary) tolerance to the flavor. It’s kind of like when you’re in a really smelly room. At first, the smell hits you like a ton of bricks, but after a minute or so you don’t even notice it. The same thing happens if you chain-vape the same flavor over and over without switching it up.
How do I fix this, and how can I keep it from happening again?!
- Drink more water. When you vape, there are elements of your e-juice in the clouds you’re exhaling, but some of what you are exhaling is water from your body. Vaping probably won’t cause deathly levels of dehydration, but there’s no doubt that vaping locally dehydrates your mouth, throat, sinuses, and lungs. If your mouth and sinuses are dry, they won’t be able to taste/smell the vapor from your e cig very well. Plus, most people are chronically dehydrated anyway. Water is good for you, so drink it up, and kill two birds with one stone!
- Use good oral hygiene. This should go without saying, but it’s true. Beyond brushing your teeth, gargling with a minty mouthwash and chewing on minty gum will help cleanse your pallet, and keep your mouth nice and moist throughout the day. Some suggest using Biotene if you have a dry mouth.
- Switch it up, and expand your e-juice rotation. Remember how we talked about not having enough e-juice variety in your life can cause vaper’s fatigue? Make sure that you have a selection of different juices to vape throughout the day. It’s best if you have different flavor types in your rotation, like: sweet flavors, beverage flavors, and fruity flavors, etc. If you have a variety of different flavors, you won’t develop a tolerance to them as easily. It may also be an idea to abandon the more subtle, refined flavors and use something a bit stronger for a while.
- Vape on some menthol e-juice. Vaper’s tongue might be strong, but menthol is even stronger! Even if you didn’t like menthol cigarettes, you might actually like some of the menthol flavored e-juices out there. Several of us here at Vape Escapes hated menthol cigs, but LOVE Arctic Ice or Snowman’s Kiss e-juice and can’t get enough of it. Even with vaper’s tongue, you’ll be able to taste the menthol and get some enjoyment from vaping. It’ll also “wake-up” your senses and reduce the duration, and symptoms, of vaper’s tongue.
- Some folks suggest inhaling the smell of fresh coffee grounds. It’s a fact, coffee helps cleanse the olfactory pallet, that’s why some perfumers keep ground coffee on-hand when smelling different scents in succession. It is also a technique used by professional wine tasters and they say the scent of fresh coffee resets your sense of taste. Got to be worth a try!
- Chew/drink something ginger flavored or something sour, like a lemon or vinegar. I’m not telling you to go suck on a lemon but drinking lemon water or eating lemon sorbet sounds pretty good. There are a lot of people who have claimed that this works best for them – so who are we to argue?
If you get a case of vapers tongue, don’t worry – it’s bound to happen at some point. If you recently quit smoking you can expect a few occurrences early on, but its frequency should diminish over time. Experienced vapers will undoubtedly experience flavor exhaustion from time-to-time, but in most cases it’s short-lived and only lasts a few hours. If you have a spell that lasts longer, drink lots of water, switch up your flavors and try a few of the tips mentioned above. With a little time and some minor adjustments, your favorite flavors should come back vibrant and strong – just like before.