JUUL Side Effects

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

Side Effects of JUUL

Experts believe vaping JUUL is far less harmful to your lungs and body than smoking, but users should always expect to experience some short-term side effects. Let’s have a look at some of the adverse effects you might experience using a JUUL.

Increased Nicotine Dependence
Compared to e-cigarettes, JUUL devices use high concentrations of nicotine salts. In the US, JUUL pods contain 3-5% nicotine, and JUUL pods available in the UK are 1.7% nicotine. This means that JUUL devices are exceptionally addictive.

Vapers often lower their nicotine levels as they vape, to help them quit. JUUL offer no low nicotine or nicotine-free options, meaning they are not easy to quit. Young adults who use e-cigarettes are four times more likely to begin smoking than their peers [1]. So if you are a young, non-smoker using JUUL, you must consider this adverse effect – using JUUL could lead you to start smoking.

Brain Development


Nicotine is damaging to the developing brains of teenagers, and JUULs are very high in nicotine [2]. Nicotine triggers reward pathways in the brain, which eventually adjust to become dependent on nicotine for full activity. Children and young adults are particularly sensitive to nicotine as their developing brains adjust with nicotine addiction, resulting in long-term negative effects on memory, learning and concentration [2].

Headaches and Nausea


Users often report headaches and nausea when using JUUL. This is most likely due to nicotine overdose. Nicotine overdose can be common in people using JUUL due to it’s high nicotine content and large consumer base of ‘never-smokers’. Symptoms should wear off within minutes or hours, dependent on how much nicotine you’ve consumed. Common other symptoms of nicotine overdose include:

– Sweating
– Dizziness
– Agitation
– Increased heart rate

Tooth Decay


If you choose a sweet or fruity JUUL flavour (like mango), you will need to consider the effects it might have on your teeth. Similar to sweets or sugary drinks, super-sweet tasting e-liquids are proven to damage your teeth, reducing enamel hardness up to 27% more than unflavoured e-juices [3]. If you don’t want to worry about damaging your teeth when you use JUUL, avoid the highly sweet or fruity flavours.

Dehydration

Frequent vapers report dry mouth and tongue, headaches and dry eyes. These side effects are often due to the dehydrating effects of vaping. When you vape, the vapour you inhale wicks moisture from your lungs, drying you out. The easiest way to avoid this side effect is to drink more water!

Lung Function

The most common short-term side effects on your respiratory system, assessed in over 20,000 e-cigarette users, are mouth and throat irritation and dry cough [4, 5]. Your short term cough reflex is also inhibited after using JUUL [6]. These side effects are all temporary.

Potential Side Effects

Lung Function

Research into the long-term effects of JUUL on lung function is difficult to undertake. This is because most users have only been vaping for a short period of time. Research on lung cell cultures suggests vaping could speed up the death of lung cells by 50-fold, implying the potential to trigger lung diseases like COPD [7]. However, the relevance of these results is questionable, as this effect is not replicated in 3D-reconstructed human airway tissue, or animal models of similar experiments [8, 9].

Asthma


It seems like vaping does not affect asthmatic symptoms short-term, and could even improve symptoms if you are vaping to stop smoking [10]. But, if you look at research assessing the ingredients in JUUL in other contexts, some ingredients are related to causing asthmatic symptoms after long term exposure.

Propylene glycol vapour and benzoic acid (used in JUUL) can slowly make your lung function worse, and cause asthma in children [11, 12, 13]. Mint flavouring, found in JUUL, is a known lung irritant, and carries the potential to cause asthma in sensitive individuals, or make existing asthma worse [14].

This research is highly suggestive, but not enough to provide concrete evidence about how using a JUUL long-term could cause asthma. Far more research is required for us to fully understand the risks of using JUUL in this context.

Impact on Quitting
We still don’t know how effective JUUL is as a way to quit smoking. Because it is marketed as a device to quit smoking, not nicotine, there is always a possibility that users may revert back to tobacco if they are caught short or without JUUL.

Experts cannot currently agree on how effective e-cigarettes are as quitting devices – about one third of research supports e-cigarette use as a quitting aid, with 66% of research papers finding e-cigarettes harmful or not beneficial to quitters [15].

Conclusion

Because of the lack of research into the long term effects of vaping, health professionals never recommended for a non-smoker to take up JUUL as a hobby. Vaping should only be used as a tool to stop smoking, as it is not entirely risk free.

JUUL devices are considered safer than smoking cigarettes, and people can now quit tobacco whilst shifting their nicotine addiction over to a newer, safer product, that suits their lifestyle. When compared to smoking, experts believe vaping is relatively harmless – you must still expect side effects from vaping Juul.

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Sources

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https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/12/171211090733.htm

2. Goriounova NA, Mansvelder HD. Short- and long-term consequences of nicotine exposure during adolescence for prefrontal cortex neuronal network function. Cold Spring Harb Perspect Med. 2012;2(12):a012120. Published 2012 Dec 1.
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https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0066317

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7. Scott A, Lugg ST, Aldridge K, et al. Pro-inflammatory effects of e-cigarette vapour condensate on human alveolar macrophages‬.‪ Thorax Published Online First:13 August 2018. doi: 10.1136/thoraxjnl-2018-211663‬
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8. PLoS One. 2015 Feb 23;10(2):e0118344. The effects of electronic cigarette emissions on systemic cotinine levels, weight and postnatal lung growth in neonatal mice. McGrath-Morrow SA1, Hayashi M2, Aherrera A2, Lopez A3, Malinina A4, Collaco JM1, Neptune E4, Klein JD5, Winickoff JP6, Breysse P7, Lazarus P8, Chen G8.
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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.