E-juice Allergy Symptoms: Stomach Cramps & Diarrhea

About 1 month ago I was suffering from several cases of severe diarrhea with each case of it lasting for about 5-6 days. At first, I put it down to food poisoning but after consecutive incidents, I realized that it might have been something else causing this.

From my own experience with food poisoning, the symptoms only last for about 3 days, where after that, things go back to normal. Stomach viruses were another suspicion of mine. Tummy flus can last for up to 7 days but once you get over it, it is highly unlikely that you get sick again from the same type of flu strain.

This lead me to think that there was something going on with the e-liquids…

E-liquid Sensitivity

From reading up on the various e-cig forums on the web, it was quite apparent that although e-cigarettes are a much healthier alternative to smoking, there is a small percentage of the community who are sensitive to the ingredients of e-liquids, and nicotine is not one of those ingredients.

Initially, when I was doing my research, I was asking around the forums but only a few people responded to my queries, and what’s more, their symptoms were completely different from mine.

My first suspect was nicotine, as I was vaping quite heavily at the time, and I thought that I might have had a nicotine overdose. However I later realized that it wasn’t the case.

I’ve overdosed on nicotine patches before (those NRT’s kick in really hard and fast), and the first thing I noticed was dizziness, headaches and nausea, but not stomachaches or diarrhea. I eventually dismissed the fact that nicotine in the e-juice caused the chronic diarrhea symptoms.

During the course of the allergy symptoms, I was vaping a fair bit on my favorite flavor from TastyVapor (U.S.A. e-liquid manufacturer), the “Cafe Macchiato”. I vaped this through the Liquinator and my Provari e-cig mod. I had been vaping this flavor for months and had several cases of slightly loose stool but not severe diarrhea. It wasn’t until I spoke to a few fellow vapers over at the GPTV network did I realize that the TastyVapor doublers were the culprit.

Some of the folks also ordered some doublers from TastyVapor and had them sweetened – there’s an option to add extra sweeteners to the doublers at checkout. All of us had the same symptoms, so it was pretty much confirmed.

The cause was narrowed down to having too much artificial sweetener.

This caused the massive stomach cramps and hours spent sitting on the can. They are the same sweeteners I believe, that are used in artificial food flavorings, for example, chewing gum. My stomach was just over sensitive to high doses of sweeteners.

The Symptoms of Allergy

The symptoms I had started with uneasiness of the tummy, followed by rumbling (it gets pretty darn loud too). The next stage is severe gut-wrenching cramps followed by chronic diarrhea.

What I had was pretty bad and at the time, I was beginning to think that I was really sick or something. I didn’t think it was the flavoring that was causing this so I kept on vaping and started getting cold sweat followed by a mild fever.

I have always been a big fan of sweet e-juice flavors but I tested my theory out by switching over to a tobacco-only juice, that wasn’t sweetened. After a day, the symptoms subsided dramatically and after 2 days, they were completely gone and I was back to normal.

Some people are allergic to the addition of VG to their e juices but I don’t think I am, because I have vaped 50/50 PG to VG ratios before and never had any issues.

Conclusion: Preventing further allergy problems

I don’t know what TastyVapor put into their extra sweeteners but I know now to stay well away from juices that are too sweet. I’ve recently switched over to a strawberry cheesecake flavor by Juice Whore (an Australian vendor) and although the flavor is sweet, it isn’t overly so and I’ve had no problems since.

I hope this post has been helpful because I know for sure that some of you are going to come across this problem, and I don’t want to see any of you go through the hell that I went through, before discovering the cause of these allergies.

If you find this post helpful, please support it by bookmarking this page or sharing it on Facebook. Thanks so much.

- Mech


Disclaimer

It is important to note that the post written on this page is not to be taken as medical advice, and that I am purely writing about my own experiences with e-cigarettes and e-liquids. Always consultant your medical professional and have your symptoms checked out if they persist.

23 Responses to “E-juice Allergy Symptoms: Stomach Cramps & Diarrhea”

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  1. chris says:

    hello Mech
    I ordered from tasty vapors I got a 1 oz bottle of Geoff’s blend sweetened. I have been vaping it since friday when I got it.Saturday night started getting stomach cramps and this morning early I started getting cold sweats. I have stopped vaping it and feeling better now not a 100% but much better.Wanted to know if you have ordered any unsweetened juice off them and have had any of the same problems with it. I like their flavor but not the effects I have gotten off it.

    • mech says:

      Hi Chris,

      Thanks for writing in. Yeah I feel you man. I’ve had quite a few friends who complained about the same thing, stomach cramps and diarrhea. I suffered for 2 weeks due to the laxative effect of the artificial sweeteners. The guys at TastyVapors just use too much of it.

      Are you using doubles or are you buying pre-mixed nicotine juice?

  2. chris says:

    I using pre mixed nicotine juice from them.

    • mech says:

      Switch to a different brand of e-juice man. Stick to flavors that are not sweet, like menthol, peppermint, or tobacco. You and I are too sensitive to artificial sweeteners.

  3. steve says:

    I have been vaping for about a year and a half and just until recently thought I was the only one suffering from these symptoms. I get my e juice from a different company and I always buy menthol. So if its not sweetner what do you suppose it is? I get very severe bloating and uncomfortable gas and my stool sometimes comes out in clumps. I swear I don’t wanna go back to smoking but it seems less of a hassle Smh.

    • mech says:

      @Steve For me, it’s usually the sweetener’s that give me cramping, and it’s also the same for other vapers who get stomach upsets. I almost got put off using e-cigarettes myself at one point and had the same same symptoms as you do, until I switched over to e-juices that are less sweet. Not everyone suffers from this reaction though, only a small minority. By the way, I’m also lactose intolerant – so my gut is super-sensitive.

      You should try something other than menthol for a change and see what happens. Try a different brand and perhaps some fruit flavors instead (if you don’t like pure tobacco flavors). I mix my own juices and my current favorite is a mix of strawberry cheesecake and pipe tobacco (50/50 mix so it isn’t too sweet). It’s been working really well for me for around 5 months now and I love it. Hope this helps.

  4. Keith says:

    Same problem (s) here. Cramps begin at upper GI area just below the stomach. Its more of a dull pain than a sharp pain. Can turn into a very sharp pain at times though, and nausea after all day vaping.

    Tried 14 different flavors, strengths, mixes from 4 different vendors. Tried different atty’s, carto’s, fillers, dripping, tail piping, 0 nic to 36mg nic.,sweet, non sweet, tobacco, candy, fruit, non flavored, vg, no vg, pg, no pg, etc. Ruled out everything really.

    I quit vaping about 7 months ago due to the well, how crappy I felt in general.

    I’ve picked up again this week because I really want to quit analogues. Waiting on some new gear and e liquid that will hopefully work this time. Right now I can only vape in short spurts during the day.

    I went from a pack a day to approx. 2 packs a month in no time after starting vaping.

    Its very frustrating since I enjoy the variety and health benefits I think vaping can bring. Frustrating.

    • mech says:

      Hey Keith,

      Sorry to hear about your problem. Unfortunately, as for all of us, it’s going to be atrial and error thing. I almost gave up vaping myself at one point, because of the tummy upsets. Which flavor and brand of e-liquids gave you problems – please share your experiences here.

      You know, I was in the lift of my apartment yesterday, and in there with me was this guy, about my age 30+. He reeked of cigarette smoke. As he was standing there, I could hear him breathing so loud, like his lungs were about to collapse on him.

      Before I quit smoking, I used to notice myself breathing really heavily like that. It has stopped since I quit smoking.

      So my message to u is, don’t give up on e-cigs so quickly. Tobacco is going to screw you over a lot worse in the long run, and you know it.

      I found some good flavors that no longer upset my tummy, and I’m sure you WILL find your sweet spot too.

      - mech

  5. Mike in FL says:

    Hi Mech, [please excuse the long read here] First off, I can’t believe I finally found anyone talk about any health issues similar to what I’ve experienced. I developed rashes from using both nicotine patches as well as PG e-cigs. I’m 40+ and have been smoking analog cigs (mostly Camel lights) for over 27 years. When I found e-cigs, I thought all my problems were finally over with the battle with analogs. However, just exactly as it was with the high-strength Nicoderm CQ nicotine patches after about 2-3 weeks, after vaping for around 3-4 months, I again developed rashes.

    To complicate matters, I have what the medical community refers to as ‘idiopathic urticaria’ which is just a general umbrella term for rashes that are non-specific and which the cause of has not been determined. I have been tested for every disease known to human-kind by a variety of medical experts in varying medical fields but have not found the cause yet. I’m almost certain the on-again-off-again rashes were initially caused by a medicine I was prescribed back in ’04 that set the whole thing off and is irreversible. So, basically I’m probably hypersensitive to just about everything and anything with no luck finding a food substance, allergy, etc. My rash issue is not really that bothersome though, in and of itself.

    Back to the e-cig health issue… The onset of the rash that I’m talking about here, with both the patch and e-cigs, started with a marked bright red, itchy patch about the size of a silver dollar right in the inner crease of my left arm (opposite side of elbow). Weird, huh. When it started with the use of the patch, I eventually quit the patch and went back to analogs. The rash subsided within a couple of days. The same exact type of rash took much longer (3-4 months) when vaping e-cigs, but again, after I quit the e-cigs and went back to Camels, the rash again went away within a week. When I quit the e-cigs, the rash had started to spread over the whole front-right side of my torso and was pretty much unbearable at that point.

    So, my conclusion (or deduction) was that I must have reactions to the purified nicotine that is in both the patch and e-cigs. However, after reading your post here and your Beginner’ Guide to E-Juice, I’m not sure it is the nicotine. When I vaped, I was primarily using Green Smoke and Bull Smoke exclusively, mostly at the 18 or 24mg level, which are both PG based. I have never tried VG but I’ve heard it has given some folks heartburn. My experience has been that I did develop a sore throat as well as heartburn with PG, when vaping constantly and with the stronger cartridges. So since then, I tried cartridges with zero nicotine which don’t work for me because they provide absolutely no throat hit.

    I was searching around for pure liquid nicotine that I could experiment with dropping small amounts of into some of these great flavored Bull Smoke 0mg carts I bought a ton of at a 75% discount that they offered before they switched to their next-generation lineup. During that search for liquid nicotine is how I happed on to your posts. Do you see another common denominator between the patch and the PG liquid, other than the purified nicotine? I would love to go back to vaping and once again say goodbye to analogs. I absolutely love vaping and love all the different flavors!

    According to the Nicoderm website, the ingredients in them are: active ingredient in NicoDerm CQ is nicotine. Inactive ingredients include ethylene/vinyl acetate copolymer, high density polyethylene, polyisobutylene, and clear polyester backings. I’m not a chemist, so I’m not sure without deeper research if any of the ingredients besides nicotine would be the common denominator between them and PG e-cigs. The real puzzle for me, is that analogs don’t cause a rash per-se with me and they deliver around 1mg each.

    Any feedback or suggestions that you, or anyone else could provide would be much, much appreciated. I’m determined to find a way to go back to vaping without the reaction. Even if I’ve only touched on something that someone else was looking for answers for or a common shared experience, then my long-as-the-live-long-day reply has served a purpose.

    Thank you for doing what you do here!
    Mike

    • mech says:

      Hi Mike,

      Thanks for sharing your experience.

      I’m no medical expert here, so I can’t give you any advice that is health related, all I can offer are suggestions, just so you’re clear about that.

      From what I’ve seen, some people are hypersensitive to certain additives in e-cigs, and some are less prone to issues. I’m one who is hypersensitive myself. There are some flavors that give me issues with my stomach, as you may already be aware about. So, I have to stick to stuff that isn’t too sweet, my current is a menthol type juice – very clean.

      My skin broke out initially in a rash as well as where I’m living has a rather dry climate. What’s more, vaping tends to dry out your throat and also maybe, the skin. Drink heaps of water, and stay hydrated.

      Switch to a PG/VG mix, and buy a pre-mixed juice from a reputable company, just initially so you can be sure that there are quality ingredients in there. PG gives me a massive sore throat as well and when I went with VG mix, it was perfect – 60/40.

      Where do you buy your pure nicotine from? You shouldn’t be messing with that stuff unless you’re sure you know what you’re doing. Like I said before, read reviews and stick to reputable manufacturers man, and don’t purchase pure nicotine from places you don’t know nothing about.

      I’ve never developed patch rash before, but then again I think the nicotine patch doesn’t work for me. If you think you’re allergic to pure nic, change brands or change its potency. Go with 12 mg mixes or lower for now.

      Let me know how you go with that.

  6. Mike in FL says:

    Hi Mech,

    Thank you for the quick reply and useful information. I completely understand that we’re just talking about e-cig reactions and not trading any actual health advice here. So, that said, all good. I have actually heard people warning about purchasing liquid from unknown vendors so that’s good to get the same advice on that from you. I just thought it would be nice to somehow save and use those 0mg carts (around 100 of them) I had bought since I liked the taste, they’ve discontinued the flavor, and it seems like such a waste to not use them up. Oh, well.

    Since the very beginning of my journey into vaping, I’ve always been really curious about e-liquids and mods. I’ve heard a lot of really great things about Halo over the last six months that I’ve been into vaping. So I just did a little bit of browsing on their website and read what you’ve got posted about them and it does look like possibly a good way for me to try out a liquid that would be clean and a good PG/VG mix? I enjoyed your video review on Halo… very informative. Before the curiosity about Halo, I was just about at the point of looking into VG only and see how different it is than PG and how it would work for me. I believe Blu uses VG only. It’s kind of a scary proposition to think about possibly re-introducing the rash, just to conclude on a test of a product though. I will brave the test though, if I feel I’m pointed in right direction and have done all I can to understand the behavior of the reactions I’ve had. I’m looking into ordering one of the Halo starter kits. I just am trying to understand enough about the difference between the G6 and the Element types, to make a decision on which to try.

    Thanks again man, for the valuable feedback and advice!

    Mike

  7. Lesa says:

    I am been having these symptoms lately but only since I started vaping juice from The Plume Room. I always vape sweet e-juices but I have been buying mine locally. Is it possible that the people are sensitive to one type of sweetener and not another?

    • mech says:

      Only one way to find out Lesa. Switch brands and see.

      Some brands use too much artificial sweeteners and that causes issues. You will get the same issue if you chew too much sugar free gum.

  8. Misty Dake says:

    Ok, a couple of things to consider, many companies use Vegetable Glycerine (sometimes not even made from vegetables) AS the sweetener. The problem is this, NOT ALL VG IS CREATED EQUAL! You may have had no trouble with a 50/50 VG PG blend from one company but get terribly sick from its addition to another brand.

    The problem is in the quality of VG used and what type. Some people are allergic to synthetic VG but find all natural VG to be just fine and vice versa. Try and do your research and find out what the company uses to sweeten their liquids and if it is VG inquire as to the brand or what it is ACTUALLY made of. USP grade Vegetable Glycerine made entirely from plant based products seems to be the most tolerated but some people don’t tolerate the VG at all.

    You can buy USP grade Vegetable Glycerine from a lot of pharmacies or online suppliers and you can use that to cut your liquids and sweeten them a little yourself. Just be sure to do your research. One of the most widely available brands out there is Humco, which “is the manufacturer of all USP vegetable glycerine products you can purchase at various pharmacies” according to one pharmacist. Humco “contract Packages”, or labels according to each retailer, the glycerine but if you ask your pharmacist for 99.5% anhydrous vegetable glycerine (meaning 99.5% VG and .5% water) they will most likely hand you a bottle labeled “CVS (or Walgreens or WalMart or whatever the store brand)” USP Glycerine which was manufactured by Humco.

    JUST BE SURE IT SAYS USP ON THE BOTTLE.

  9. Bill at American Beer TV says:

    I’m getting an upset stomach as well, however I’ve noticed that it seems to come when I vape tobacco based flavors. I can do many of the fruit flavors with no problems. I thought it was the nicotine as well, but your article made me look at things differently.

    Thanks for writing this.

  10. Danilo says:

    I tried Halo ecig Belgian Chocolate flavor and a diarrhea occurred. Now trying Southern Classic and I suppose the same problem is occurring. Also nausea and feeling very tired.

  11. corey green says:

    I have been vaping for 6 months now, when I first started vaping, I was not much of a vaper. I would hardly vape at all. Now I am a professional. I own like 10 mods, and I vape all day long. I started to get a rash like jock itch, it is terrible and it will not go away. I have now diarrhea, and I am not getting any better. I was vaping at 6mg and 12mg, all day long a 50/50mix. I have a terrible jock itch red rash that is terrible, and not getting better. Today I switched to a all VG type e liquid, I read that the PG could be causing all the issues. I am not sure what is causing it, but vaping is the only thing I can think of.

  12. angi says:

    Hello! Im having a completely different issue altogether. I started vaping 22 days ago. Started with the EVOD model and Zeus burough light juice which is60% PG and 40% VG. No probelms at all. A week later the hubby and i went to try different flavors since we were enjoying it so much and not smoking analogs. I went straight to the pomegranate juice. Didn’t have % or really what the ingredients were except PG & VG and artificial flavors. Within 24 hrs I had geographic tongue (felt burnt) mouth ulcers and blisters on the roof of my mouth. Stopped vaping a couple days later when I got a feeling it wasn’t a viral infection like the doc said. Went and ordered all organic 100% VG peach and & raspberry from Virgin Vapors. Got them last night started immediately smoking those juices and threw my analogs out. Woke up this morning and the burnt tongue thibg has already started again and the blisters and ulcers on the roof of my mouth are there. My conclusion, not the PG thats the problem? Possibly the sweetners? I immediately poured it out and started my Zeus burough light juice again since I didn’t have a problem but maybe a little dryer mouth. I’ll keep you updated…I hope like hell thats the problem becausewe stopped smoking analogs because my mother in law just died 6weeks ago from lung cancer and she was diagnosed in Oct 2013. 3 months later…dead. never want my kids to see that happen to me.

    • mech says:

      Some people don’t handle the artificial sweeteners very well. But then it depends on what sort of sweetener it is. Try changing brands for your ejuice. And stay away from those super sweet fruity flavors.

  13. Cindy says:

    Same thing happened to me. After a few day of vaping, stomach cramps and VERY bad dirhahaa, to the point that I could not hold it. I used diapers and went to the doctor. I was using 12mg tobacco flavor. Maybe I will try the 6mg and see what that does. Wish I had never seen a cigarette.

    • mech says:

      It has got nothing to do with the MG levels Cindy. It’s the flavoring they use in the juice you bought – I’m guessing the artificial sweeteners (same as what you’d get if you ate a lot of sugar-free gum). Try Halo juice. I’ve not had problems with their stuff ever.

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