Vaper’s tongue. Otherwise known as vaper’s fatigue is when a person can barely taste their e-juice flavor after a while. No need to worry. Vapers tongue is quite common among vapers. We’ll explain what causes it and how to fix it.
To explain this shared experience, here is a simple analogy:
You know that one friend whose house always has a particular smell but your friend doesn't notice? What your friend is experiencing is the same thing that happens with vapers who vape the same flavor after a while.
You might be wondering why this is happening?
This happens due to something called an Olfactory Fatigue. Olfactory fatigue occurs when you temporarily become immune to a specific smell after prolonged exposure.
A great way to explain this is how when chewing chewing gum - the taste goes away! Next time you're doing this and this happens, take it out of your mouth, have a drink of something fizzy, then go back to the chewing gum. Magic! The taste is back!
If you’re wondering what your sense of smell has anything to do with tasting flavors, you’re on the right page!
WHAT DOES SMELL HAVE TO DO WITH TASTE?
The name vaper’s tongue is a misnomer among many things in the vape world like steeping e-juice and vape smoke.
Many falsely assume that your taste buds are solely responsible for the tasty glazed donut you might have eaten in the morning. However, your good old olfactory system or the nerve cells in your nose also play a role in being able to taste the flavor.
If you want to get sciencey, when you combine the gustatory system (taste buds) and your olfactory system (nose), you get what you call a chemosensory system going through a transduction process.
What this means is that you can taste because your brain can interpret different signals coming from the nerve cells in your nose, mouth, and throat. Thus, your mind is able to perceive flavor through the transduction process.
If you have tried eating while holding your nose, you’ll notice how dull your food tastes.
What’s even cooler is that researchers have found that your brain can taste food without having food touching your tongue. Your brain plays a huge role in how you can taste flavor.
Let’s talk about how your brain can cause you to experience vaper’s tongue or vaper’s fatigue.
WHAT CAUSES VAPER’S TONGUE?
There are many reasons why you may notice a change in your vape juice flavor but let’s go back to the smell analogy and how that can diminish your ability to taste your e-juice.
Taste fatigue aka Palate fatigue or Flavor fatigue is when the flavor of your e-juice becomes diminished after constant exposure. It is the same concept when smokers can’t smell the smoke on their clothes because they have gotten used to it.
Your brain is like a computer, and when you taste the food, your sensory receptors send signals to your brain so you can register the flavor.
However, after constant stimulation of the same taste or smell, your brain adapts to this stimulus which will decrease the intensity of the smell or taste over time.
Your sensory receptors will also adjust and reduce the rate of firing signals to your brain causing the flavor or aroma to fade over time.
Why does our brain do this?
Science does not widely understand sensory adaptation. However, researchers have speculated our brain does this as a survival mechanism. For example, we need our sense of smell to avoid dangers such as smoke, rotten food, or any changes in smell in our environment.
If our brain concludes that the smell is non-threatening, we naturally stop identifying the smell to reduce redundant information. In doing so, we can then focus on any other changes in the environment that may cause us harm.
Interestingly, researchers have found that being overly cautious of certain smells can make your nose more sensitive, allowing you to adapt more slowly to threatening smells.
If you’re vaping the same e-liquid flavor, you may experience vaper’s tongue due to sensory adaptation.
This may be the answer to the largely debated topic, but there may be other reasons for why you are experiencing vaper’s tongue.
WHAT ARE THE OTHER CAUSES FOR VAPER’S TONGUE?
What are some other reasons besides sensory adaptation that may cause vaper’s fatigue?
Taste disorder is a condition characterized by a decrease in the sense of smell or taste, and up to 15% of adults have some sort of impairment. Majority of the taste disorders are developed after an injury or illness.
There are three main types of taste disorders:
- Hypogeusia is a partial loss of taste.
- Ageusia is a complete loss of taste, and it is incredibly rare. However, losing a sense of smell is more common.
- Dysgeusia is a distortion in taste of smell.
Common causes of these disorders are from chemotherapy, deficiency in zinc, and from the side effects of different medications.
Damaged Taste Buds
People are born with an average of 10,000 taste buds, and everyone can recognize the five tastes (sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and umami), but not everyone will register the signals differently. When you have damaged taste buds, it can result in a temporary loss of taste. No need to worry though, taste buds regenerate every 1-2 weeks. However, when you start to age, you begin to lose your taste buds because your taste buds won't renew as well.
Damaged taste buds can possibly be caused by:
- Extreme cold
- Dry Mouth
- Poor oral hygiene
- Spicy Foods
- Extreme sour foods
- Certain Medications can affect taste receptors as well as how your brain receives signals.
Additionally, having a dry mouth will make it harder for the flavors to reach your taste buds.
Being sick can also result in decreased taste sensations. Here are some of the following illnesses that will affect your tasting and smelling abilities:
- Stuffy Nose - remember, your nose affects your taste significantly
- Strep Throat
- Respiratory infections
- Dental issues such as gum disease, tooth loss, and bad dental hygienist.
WHAT ARE SOME REMEDIES FOR VAPER’S TONGUE?
Now that we know what may be causing your vaper’s tongue, you might be wondering how to cure it, right?
Unfortunately, there is no absolute way to fix it, but the good thing is to understand that these effects are temporary. It’s a common issue in the wine tasting community, perfume testers, and coffee testers, so let’s take their cue and see what possible remedies exist to fix vaper’s tongue!
KEEP IT FRESH BY ADDING DIFFERENT FLAVORS TO YOUR ROTATION
Sticking to one flavor after a while will cause sensory adaptation, and you will not be able to taste the different flavor notes. One solution will be to add different flavor profiles to your rotation. Having different flavor profiles such as custard flavors, fruit flavors, and menthols will be a good way to avoid getting used to one flavor. Wine tasters will often start off with dry white wines and move up to heavier flavors to prevent taste fatigue.
STAY HYDRATED AND DRINK WATER
Being dehydrated will make it hard for the flavor to reach your taste buds. Saliva plays a vital role in your sense of taste as it chemically interacts with the food you’re eating. With dehydration being a side effect of vaping, it’ll be important to drink water more than usual.
VAPE STRONG FLAVORS
Many vapers in the community have resorted to using pure menthol flavors to refresh and shock the palate. Others have noted that menthol flavors take longer for your taste receptors to adapt and one of the many reasons vapers love menthol.
Having poor oral hygiene will impact your ability to taste your vape juice, and you will notice a bad taste in your mouth. Making sure you have healthy gums and reducing the possibilities of infection by brushing your teeth and flossing will help immensely. Vapers have noted that using mouthwash and a tongue scraper also help in being able to taste your e-juice better. Using mouthwash is one way to refresh your palate although there may be a temporary loss in taste.
TAKE A BREAK
One way to avoid sensory adaptation is to let time take its course. If you’re vaping continuously, your taste receptors will get used to the flavor, and you will get vaper’s fatigue. There is a reason why wine tasters take a break between samples and eat crackers to cleanse the palate.
PALATE CLEANSING AND OTHER METHODS
If the above methods haven’t worked, here are some of the palate cleansing methods that many vapers have tried as a possible cure. Please note: They may or may not work. These are what others claimed to have used to taste again.
- Smelling or inhaling the aroma of coffee beans is a popular method to reset the palate.
- Pickled Ginger is often used as a palate cleanser when eating different pieces of sushi. Ordinary pickles should also work.
- Unsalted crackers and cheese are also used in the wine tasting community to improve the taste of wine by making your palate more sensitive.
- Sucking on a lemon for a few seconds or any tart or citrus flavor such as grapefruit can help cleanse the palate. Some vapers have sworn by this method so it may be worth the try.
- Raw honey is another solution that worked for some vapers, and it may work to soothe the throat and possible cure vaper’s tongue.
- Eating sorbet is also considered a palate cleanser often used in French cuisines between meals. Try a lemon sorbet to reset your taste buds.
- Perfumists do jumping jacks between sniffs to maintain their sense of smell. Not sure how that would relate to vaping but hey, a little exercise can't hurt.
- Smelling the crook of your elbow and smelling your armpit may not be a pretty sight but perfumists do this between sniffings to get back to baseline. Try this in the privacy of your home!
The fundamental principle of palate cleansing is to reset your sensory adaptation, and although there are many ways to do it, it can’t hurt to experiment on what works best for you!
WHAT ARE SOME OTHER REASONS WHY YOUR VAPE JUICE TASTES OFF?
If your e-juice tastes differently, it may not even be due to vaper’s tongue. It can be related to a host of other factors that may come into play.
Let’s go through some other possible causes that may affect your e-juice flavor!