Are you suffering from a propylene glycol allergy?
Propylene glycol is a base that is commonly used in E-liquids. According to the Wikipedia article on the subject, it is described as ‘a clear, colorless and hygroscopic liquid’ that is also ‘a synthetic organic compound.’ It is said to be nearly odorless, but does possess a ‘faintly sweet taste’.
If you’ve been doing much reading about E-cig side effects at all, then you’ve probably come across information regarding PG allergies.
Is this a real thing? And is it possible that you could be experiencing it?
Here’s what you need to know.
Propylene glycol – basics and safety
Propylene glycol is said to have ‘low chronic oral toxicity’. For this reason, it was classified by the US Food and drug Administration as ‘generally recognized as safe’ as a food additive. It is used in foods like frozen desserts and ice cream, among other things.
But with that being, said, it is possible to experience allergic reactions to it.
Learn.eversmoke.com has published a pretty helpful article in which they provide a list of symptoms that one can expect in ‘mild cases’ of PG allergies.
These symptoms include…
- A sore throat
- Sinus problems
- In some extreme cases, numbness of the face and tongue, and/or itchy hives on the upper part of the body
According to an article published on cigarette-politics.com, about ‘1 out of 10 people are slightly sensitive to propylene glycol’. It also says that people who experience such a sensitivity will generally become tolerant to it if they continue vaping. This sensitivity is said to cause a ‘minor degree of upper respiratory tract irritation’.
It also goes on to say that about 1 out of 100 people are ‘very sensitive to PG’, and that they will ‘suffer from a painfully sore throat when using high-PG refills.’
According to this same article, about 1 out of every 5,000 users may experience some skin problems, including dryness or possible severe itching. It is also said that about 1 out of 100,000 people may experience a worsening of tinnitus symptoms (a ringing in the ears) when they use propylene glycol.
Now, it is important to understand that these numbers were not necessarily derived from legitimate scientific studies. They were actually obtained by looking at information provided on vaping forums – so don’t think that these are actual clinical numbers.
What is important, however, is the fact that these types of symptoms have been reported, which means that if you are experiencing them, you are not the only one.
What should you do if you think that you might be suffering from a propylene glycol allergy?
Attention! If you’re afraid that you might be suffering from an allergy, the best thing to do is to stop using PG E-liquids and switch to vegetable glycerin.
VG is an alternative base that can offer you a ton of awesome flavours without the need for PG. Granted, VG tends to taste a little bit different, and it delivers a smoother throat hit – but a lot of vapers actually favour it because it tends to produce better vapour clouds than PG E-liquids.
It is also very important to use only high-grade PG or VG, regardless of whether you have an allergy or not! Pharmaceutical-grade ingredients are the best, and E-liquids made in the US or the UK tend to be highest in quality.
But before you blame propylene glycol completely for your problems, it is important that you first rule out some other factors. Some of these symptoms can also manifest themselves after you quit smoking. To find out if this may be the case, try to discontinue both vaping and smoking for a week or so. If the symptoms persist, you might be dealing with something else… maybe something related to quitting smoking.
Another possibility is a nicotine overdose. If you’re getting too much nicotine from your vaping habit, you might experience nausea, rapid-heartbeat, headaches, or a general unwell feeling.
Sometimes (though rarely), people might experience allergic reactions to certain flavourings as well. This can really only be ruled out by changing your E-liquid… but it might be something that you should consider doing if you can’t figure out what’s causing the problem.