[revised June 21, 2019] I started vaping in November 2016. I never thought of my ears. I’ve had anxiety forever, and it was rearing its ugly head. Under a lot of stress. Flaring up my tinnitus as usual. I kept thinking back to when I was a teenager. When the odd cigarette calmed me down. I don’t want to start smoking. So why not no nicotine vaping or e-cigarettes? I got myself all set up. Chose mint for my first vape juice. Mint is supposed to be calming. Did two or three puffs, but only once or twice a day. Some days not at all. It did help my anxiety.
The only side effects I noticed were unladylike burping. Fascinated felines. And the sensation of caterpillars crawling in my ears. I kept reaching up to touch my ears. Expecting to feel fat fuzzy wriggling bodies stopping up the holes. Co-incidence, right? How could that be from vaping?
Then I was googling vape juice flavours. Torn between lemon meringue pie and black cherry cheesecake. When I happened to notice a lot of people were googling tinnitus and vaping. So of course I had to check it out. There were a lot of stories. Anecdotes. Vaping: causes T, makes T worse, makes T better; causes hearing loss, makes hearing loss worse; makes anxiety worse, makes anxiety better; and so on. I had doubts, but my T hadn’t changed; so I kept doing my little bit of vaping.
Then Christmas hit. Toxic three day house guest. I had to vape during the visit. At least 10 times a day. Minimum 3 puffs a time. Up about 80% than before. My T stayed about the same. My sound sensitivity was a problem. His Highness and I had a fight over the unnecessary clicking of metal tongs in the kitchen. Whistling was banned. No Alvin and the Chipmunks. It was hard watching TV. He wanted 30 plus on the volume. I wanted 15 or less. I couldn’t hear sometimes (people kept talking too fast and too soft), but I didn’t think it was much different than before. At least, that’s what I told myself.
I quit vaping. Just to see what would happen. No change in T. The caterpillars left. After several weeks, my sound sensitivity settled down slightly. If I’m honest, I think it’s worse than before. But now I’m anxious about my hearing. People still talking too fast. Too soft. Plus I’m having to ask people to speak up on the phone. Make sure there’s no background noise. Talk in the same room. Repeat what they said.
I decided to do more thorough google research on T and vaping. Not good. There’s a big controversy over whether vaping causes hearing loss and/or tinnitus. There just aren’t any scientific evidence-based studies yet on vaping and hearing loss/tinnitus; although hopefully that is a big priority for the scientific, tinnitus and hearing loss communities. Especially given people of all ages are doing it.
One of the big problems is that the ingredients or chemicals in vape juice aren’t regulated by the FDA. But one of the known ingredients is a chemical called propylene glycol. Healthy Hearing states “propylene glycol is an alcohol-based solvent that, while not having yet been studied in terms of its use in e-cigarettes, has been studied in relation to products such as eardrops. Research has proven that when used topically, propylene glycol is ototoxic (i.e. harmful to the inner ear).” Scientifically, nobody knows what it does to people who vape it. Nobody knows if any tinnitus or hearing loss is temporary or permanent.
Even if you vape and have no symptoms of hearing loss or tinnitus, don’t feel safe. Ototoxicity may be asymptomatic or without any symptoms. It is a well- known fact that damage to the inner ear (from ototoxity or noise) is painless. You don’t feel a thing. You only find out after the damage is done. Like after your hearing goes. After it’s too late.
The FDA is currently investigating exploding e-cigarette batteries. On June 20, 2019, CTV News reported a story where an e-cigarette explodes in teen’s mouth, shattering jaw and teeth. The story states, “There were 32 reported cases of injuries or poisonings related to vaping products including e-cigarettes between January 2013 and August 2018 in Canada, according to government figures. Seventy-eight per cent of the injuries reported were poisonings from ingesting vaping liquid, 92 per cent of which were among children aged four or younger. Nine per cent of the remaining patients were burned from e-cigarettes exploding or catching fire. More than 60 per cent of the patients injured were male and eight-out-of-ten of the injuries happened in the home.
There have been law suits against vape juice manufacturers after children have drunk vape juice. No wonder with the cheery packaging and yummy flavours.
Healthy Hearing recommends if you do vape, and experience symptoms such as blockage, ear pressure, hearing loss or tinnitus, stop vaping immediately and consult an ENT, Audiologist or hearing healthcare professional.
I still want to vape. I wish the manufacturers would get rid of propylene glycol as an ingredient and make the product with childproof caps. Where is consumer protection for kids, teens, young adults and adults who vape?
It’s been 3 months since I stopped vaping. I still can’t hear. My hyperacusis is bad. My tinnitus is flared up. I wish with all my heart that I never vaped ear poison.
Does anybody know how to get manufacturers to get rid of ear poison in vape juice? And use childproof caps? I want to vape again, but not unless mfgs make safe vape juice formulas.
October 11, 2017 Update:
I know which pair of Hearing Aids I need to get if this doesn’t go away. If “temporary” ear symptoms don’t settle down within a day or a week, symptoms sometimes go away over the next 12 months. I’m at 11 months. I keep telling myself, in rare cases it takes 18 months. Fingers crossed but not optimistic I’ll be that lucky. I can’t believe I F-ed up my own hearing, tinnitus and hyperacusis.
August 1, 2017 Update:
Since I last vaped in January my hearing still hasn’t gotten better and my hyper ears are still worse than before vaping (tinnitus and hyperacusis). It’s been 6 months using sound and mind therapy flare-up tools every day and night. No change. Not a good sign.
January 1, 2018 Update
I’m still using sound therapy at night. The good news is that my hyperacusis has finally settled down. My tinnitus is back to about where it used to be. I still have mild HL. If you get hyper ears from vaping, don’t quit using sound therapy too soon, especially at night. It took my ears about 2 years. Maybe it’s a coincidence; maybe not. Various other hyper ears causes like noise trauma or head injury can take up to 12 to 24 months before improvement with treatment so I can’t rule out sound therapy as the reason for improvement.
June 7, 2018 Update
I finally found Moonshine Brew in Vancouver that makes organic vape juice and ships in Canada and to USA, Eurozone and Australia. I’ve tried Blue Slushy and Rise ‘n Shine. Both smell amazing, taste amazing. The max VG (may have a tiny bit of PG) is much better than other PG vape juices I’ve tried, and the liquid is just as runny. Glad I can vape again.
March 22, 2019 Update
I’m still vaping with max VG. I use it for chronic pain, anxiety, etc. Cannibidiol or CBD only vape juice could also be an option for some people if it doesn’t contain PG. These products are legal in Canada.
I’m getting really mad experts and media requesting e-cig regulations never mention the toxic hearing and balance system risks. Completely preventable if PG -and other toxic carcinogens and the like-are banned from vape juice.
Health Risks of Vaping:
Exploding e-Cigarette Batteries:
Photo Credit Jan L. Mayes
What’s the latest on hearing health including noise plus chemicals combined risk? Find out in Jan’s 2019 International Book Awards winning finalist in Health- General: Tinnitus Toolbox Hyperacusis Handbook. Click the cover at left to learn more.
Jan L. MayesMSc, Aud(C), RAud
Author, audiologist, educator, quiet activist, playing with words.