"Drowning" feeling when vaping

Ok, here’s the deal:

My husband REALLY wants to quit smoking cigarettes. However, everytime he vapes for more than a day, he says he gets a feeling in his chest like he’s drowning. He said he feels as though he has to vape so much it seems to be making his lungs feel full.

I keep upping his nicotine level, as my thought is that maybe he feels the need to vape more often because it just isn’t enough nicotine to satisfy that craving. I’ve tried nic salts, freebase, PG based nic, VG based nic, a mix of both PG & VG nic… I don’t know what else to try.

He started at 18 mg/ml in a 70/30 VG/PG blend made with 100% VG freebase nic. When I started DIY, we both cut down our nic down a bit. He went down to 16 mg/ml, then down to 12 mg/ml and was doing great! We had a stressful incident, about a year ago, and he relapsed back to cigarettes. He’s been trying to go back to the vape but this is the trouble we are having.

I’ve mixed as much as 28mg/ml for him and he says it’s a little better but it still gives him that “drowning” feeling. I’m using the same brand and strength (PurNic 100% VG and Wizard Labs 100% PG both 100 mg/ml) of nicotine that I was using before. It’s the same stuff I use for mine and I have no problems… I am using only 3-6 mg/ml for mine, but still… I’ve also tried a 50/50 PG/VG blend of the two nicotine concetrates that I have.

What could be causing this and what can I try that I haven’t already tried to rule out the cause?


It would help if your husband could be more specific as to what he feels.

When I first started vaping I had episodes of shortness of breath that I hadn’t experienced while smoking. I just attributed it to the transition. I was vaping high pg at the time and when I started mixing I went to 50/50. Eventually it just stopped. Every now and then when I’m vaping a lot, I’ll get a build up of phlegm that seems to be an accumulation of VG. It could possibly be this is happening to him.

Also, and I’m not disparaging your husband in any way, it could be psychosomatic. It’s amazing what humans will come up with when they don’t want to do something. Just a thought.


I don’t take offense at all! I appreciate your input! We have tried just about every percentage variation, in 10% increments from max VG to 10/90 VG/PG. He says the higher PG is too harsh and the higher VG is too thick and doesn’t wick well.

He described it as feeling very similar to when you have pneumonia without the phlegm or fluid accumulation. So kind of a tight, full feeling. He does have coughing fits, nearly bad enough to cause him to throw up. We hang out in the living room, together, a lot and I see it, often.

He will hit his vape device, blow out his cloud, and when he’s about 2/3 of the way done exhaling his vape, he starts hacking and coughing. Not EVERY TIME, but enough that I can tell it’s not fake. Sometimes, hard enough to be drooling when he’s done coughing, like you do before you throw up… you know?

Right now, we stick with a 70/30 VG/PG ratio as that seems to cause fewer problems.


@Wombatred26 maybe he has a PG sensitivity? Can you make a 100% VG mix? Or have him try just 100% VG with no flavor and see if that affects him. Sounds like he may be having an allergic reaction.


@Wombatred26 has he seen a doctor lately? Maybe something is going on?

Is the VG problem just a complaint about wicking because that can be fixed.


I did a nearly 100% VG mix, everything but the 14% PG based flavor. The nic was 100 mg/ml 100% VG, mixed to 20 mg/ml. I typically use this recipe for him, as it’s still his favorite. Are there any flavors that any of you can see that may be an issue? Maybe I can sub something? I’ll try a 100% VG mix with just VG, nic, and distilled water and see how that affects him. I don’t think I have any VG flavors or I’d definitely try that… unfortunately he really hates unflavored…:joy:

He’s seen the doctor, they did a chest x-ray, did blood tests, nothing showed up. The wicking problem, I know I can use distilled water to thin it, I just didn’t have any at the time. Maybe I’ll try that and see if it helps, as @mjag suggested I try 100% VG, (again :smirk:) as well.

I appreciate you guys helping me troubleshoot this. It’s been tough trying to urge him to switch back, as he is just so uncomfortable and feels unwell when he vapes, lately.

We both get so frustrated. He wants to quit smoking because he knows I don’t like the smell and that it’s better for him to vape instead. I get frustrated because it’s hard to push the subject without being bitchy or overly forceful.


Not a doctor, but it sounds like anxiety. I’ve had clients express the same “drowning” sensation when they get panic attacks. Might be worth exploring. I know men hate the thought of that (at least I do), but considering all the BS we’ve gone through as a country (world) and any personal issues added to the pile that’s been 2020/2021, there is a trend in more cases of anxiety.


You are using nic @ 100% VG. Try switching over to 100% PG nic, if you can find some. Another thought…how old is your nic? Perhaps a fresh batch would be helpful.
I hate to see someone new to vaping struggle so I hope you find a solution soon! :frowning_face:


The only thing I can think of is maybe the citrus in that mix like the lemon and tangerine. I know I have to be careful when using citrus to keep it low or it can give me a serious throat hit I can’t handle without coughing. Not all citrus flavors but some for sure.


We’re all so different, I know I’d hack up a lung with 6% TPA Juicy Peach


@big_vape I used to think that, but I ended up creating a MTL ONLY mix with 4 flavors, and TPA DX Juicy Peach @ 10%. It would kill me (I think) DTL, but MTL it’s actually fine.


@Wombatred26 I tried to read down before posting, and you’ve got some good responses. I can’t help but wonder if he’s over doing it DTL vaping. I know when I sub ohm (DTL) I can get a little vaping fatigue, and I switch to much higher NIC MTL, and it seems to relieve (whatever in the hell it is).

Has he MTL’d ?


Maybe someone mentioned this above, but how about a high NIC Salt mix, MTL, with extra flavors ?


We tried this with the same results. The nicotine is only about a year old. I ordered it a few months after the most recent group chat was started about the PACT act. I have a couple of bottles that are a couple of months newer than that… but as I said, it’s, I think under a year old. I want to say I bought it in March or February…? Thank you for your positive hopes. I hope we find a solutions, soon, too! :joy:

He does have anxiety but this coughing/feeling only happens when vaping and he’s fine when he puts it down. It’s very strange.

Is there anything you could suggest to help make the peaches “pop” that aren’t citrus? I mean, I’ve been mixing this blend exactly the same for 2 years now and he has only recently had this issue. I’ve not switched suppliers nor switched to a new bottle of anything. They are all the same as what I started with and I shake em, everytime I use em.

Oh, just noticed you said throat hit is your issue with citrus… he’s not having any issues with throat hit, it’s more a middle to deep lung feeling. Level with his armpits and a little lower.

Is there anything you would suggest as an alternative or a better target percentage? Is CAP Juicy Peach better as I have that in there too. Should I reverse the percentages on those?

When I FIRST started, I had a Juul. He tried it and it was okay. He has recently tried the MTL disposable vape and they give him indigestion/heartburn, which I assume is due to the high PG in them but I could be mistaken. Is there a fairly inexpensive MTL refillable you could recommend? I’m sure he would be willing to give it a go. I’m on a limited income so it would have to be pretty darn inexpensive. :sweat_smile:

I appreciate everyone’s advice and input. I look forward to your further responses. I’m happy to try anything (within reason :joy:) I can afford to make this work for him. Thanks guys.


@Wombatred26 , I see you have Peach Gummy Candy in your stash.

That is a friendly flavor with not much need for a popper.

Maybe try this for a new but similar direction, with less variables, less total flavoring, but should still pack a lot in taste.

Peach Gummy Candy WFSC 3%
Sweet Tangerine Cap 1%
Sweetener of choice
70/30 vg/pg

Worth a shot :slight_smile: good luck getting him over the funk!


For me, it would’ve been FA White Peach, but you’re already using that at 2%.

If nothing is new at all … hmmm, is that the only mix he vapes? If he tried/used yours, does he still cough? (I realize he might not particularly like yours and it’s much lower nic)


Hmmm, that makes me think something else may be in play. How long has this been going on?

I do like CAP Juicy Peach better than the TFA version and doesn’t need as much. I like @Plunderdrum suggestion of WF Peach Gummy Candy, I use that one a lot as well.

@big_vape mentioning FA White Peach being a problem I tend to agree, I no longer have that flavor due to lack of use. But you have been using it for 2 years so something else is happening :thinking:


I cant vape anything higher than 80vg otherwise it feels like my lungs are full …I didnt see if you ttied to lower the VG ? If its not that it can be an issue with PG maybe @Plunderdrum can hop in and tell you his wifes symptoms from PG since she has an allergy


She has it pretty mild. Just an annoying dry cough. Nothing like what was described above. But, enough to notice if there’s even 0.15% PG in a mix.


@Wombatred26 , what is his tank/coil/ohm/wattage/mod set-up?