Juul Headache

By Dr. Annie Macpherson
Updated: 2019-09-19

How Are Migraines Different from Headaches?

Headaches are defined as any type of pain that arises from your head or neck area. It can occur for a variety of reasons, and do not often last longer than a couple of hours, unless there is an underlying issue that is not fully resolved. The most common form of headache is caused by tension [1].

A migraine is a severe form of headaches, that lasts from hours up to several days, often occurring on one side of the head. Compared to other types, migraine pain varies from moderate to severe. Migraines often come with other symptoms too, including visual disturbances and sensitivity to sound.

If using a JUUL is causing you to have symptoms of headaches, it is best to stop using your JUUL altogether. Consult your healthcare provider for any advice on what to do next, and your personal circumstances.

Why Does JUUL Give Me Headaches?

Let’s take a look at some of the reasons you might experience feeling headaches when you use JUUL:

Nicotine Overdose
If you have not ever smoked or used nicotine based products before trying a JUUL, it’s likely you are sensitive to nicotine, and your headaches are caused by a mild to moderate nicotine overdose.

Nicotine constricts your blood vessels and affects your nervous system, which results in pain in your head if you have taken too much. Overdose is not deadly, and symptoms wear off within minutes or hours, dependent on how much nicotine you have taken. Other symptoms of mild to moderate nicotine overdose can include:

  • Sweating
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • vomiting
  • Agitation
  • Pallor
  • Increased heart rate

What If I Was A Heavy Smoker Before Using The Juul Pod System?

If you were a heavy smoker before using JUUL, it’s likely you are tolerant to high nicotine levels. However, quite often, heavy smokers that transition from tobacco to vaping will use their JUUL as often as they might have previously smoked. However, JUUL can be higher in nicotine than some types of cigarette – vaping this often could be overcompensating, resulting in you ingesting more nicotine than you ever might have smoked previously. Because of this, JUUL can cause a nicotine overdose-induced headaches, even in heavy smokers.

There is also the possibility that you might be experiencing a headache for different reasons.

Dehydration
Vaping dries you out, and will dehydrate you more quickly than usual. When you inhale JUUL vapour, it wicks moisture from your lungs. This is also the reason you might get a dry cough when you use JUUL. If you are already dehydrated, using a JUUL could contribute to dehydration-based headaches. It’s easy to prevent this – just stay hydrated. Drink water before, during and after you vape.

Acidosis
Limited studies show that inhaling large quantities of benzoic acid (used in JUUL to keep nicotine salts stable) in a short period of time, can result in a symptom called acidosis [2, 3].

Acidosis
occurs when your blood pH levels are too low (acidic), and symptoms of mild acidosis
include headache, anxiety, restlessness and confusion. It’s not clear if acidosis could be the main cause of a headache from vaping Juul
, but there is a chance that acidosis might contribute to your symptoms.

Whether vaping with JUUL really could evoke a mild acidosis response from exposure to benzoic acid is unclear. There is currently no research available on the effects of inhaling benzoic acid in a vaping context.

How Can I Stop Headaches From Using Juul?

JUUL starter pack

A JUUL starter pack. JUUL products are exceptionally high in nicotine.

It’s highly likely your headache is caused by a mild nicotine overdose from vaping Juul pods. If this is the case, the only way to prevent your headaches from occurring is by cutting back on how much you use your JUUL.

JUUL devices are marketed as an alternative to tobacco, not as a device to help you quit nicotine altogether. Because of this, they offer no low nicotine or nicotine-free pods, meaning you cannot reduce the amount of nicotine that you vape in your JUUL.

JUUL is not a product that you can personalise in any way – you cannot modulate the nicotine concentration, lower the benzoic acid/nicotine salts ratio, or adjust the flavours from the JUUL factory standard. This means that asides from cutting back your usage, and drinking more water to ensure you are not dehydrated, there is very little you can do to prevent head pains from vaping with Juul from coming on.

Conclusion

If you feel pain in your head from JUULing, it’s likely that you are vaping too much nicotine
, and need to change to a device that has a refillable e-liquid chamber
, so you can tailor and/or reduce the nicotine you vape to a level that it satisfying and ultimately, suits you.

Nicotine can permanently alter brain development in young people, as their developing brains adjust to function with nicotine instead of without it. Ingesting high levels of nicotine throughout puberty results in long-term, negative effects on memory, learning and concentration [4].

If you are a young person often experiencing pain in your head caused by Juuling, you could do better than choosing a high nicotine product designed for heavy smokers. Choose a different e-cigarette device, which has options to tailor the nicotine content of your e-liquid.

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Sources

1. National Health Service UK – Health A-Z – Tension Headaches. [Accessed 3 March 2019]
https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/tension-headaches/

2. TOXNET – Toxicology Data Network – BENZOIC ACID – CASRN: 65-85-0 [Accessed 6 March 2019]
https://toxnet.nlm.nih.gov/cgi-bin/sis/search/a?dbs+hsdb:@term+@DOCNO+704

3. INTERNATIONAL PROGRAMME ON CHEMICAL SAFETY – CONCISE INTERNATIONAL CHEMICAL ASSESSMENT DOCUMENT NO. 26 – BENZOIC ACID AND SODIUM BENZOATE – Dr A. Wibbertmann, Dr J. Kielhorn, Dr G. Koennecker, Dr I. Mangelsdorf, and Dr C. Melber, Fraunhofer Institute for Toxicology and Aerosol Research, Hanover, Germany. World Health Organization Geneva, 2000. [Accessed 6 March 2019]
http://www.inchem.org/documents/cicads/cicads/cicad26.htm#SubSectionNumber:8.3.2

4. Goriounova, Natalia A and Huibert D Mansvelder. “Short- and long-term consequences of nicotine exposure during adolescence for prefrontal cortex neuronal network function” Cold Spring Harbor perspectives in medicine vol. 2,12 a012120. doi:10.1101/cshperspect.a012120
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3543069/

Dr. Annie Macpherson
Dr. Annie Macpherson

Annie has a PhD in Genome Stability from the University of Sussex. She has first-hand experience in cancer and human disease research. This allows her to provide us with new and unbiased insights into the ongoing research of the public and health effects of vaping. She loves an adventure, and has travelled through South East Asia and Australia working for Vaping Insider.