Vaping is becoming increasingly popular across the UK. The most recent data suggested that between 3.1 and 3.2 million adults used e-cigarettes in England alone. 

Around 8.6% of young people aged 11 to 18 were also estimated to be vaping in 2022 – more than doubling from 4% in 2021.

Although current evidence suggests that vaping poses a small fraction of the risks of smoking tobacco in the short to medium term, it is not considered to be risk-free. 

Due to the relatively short time that vaping products have been on the market, evidence is not readily available for longer-term effects, and we are still learning about the health effects of vaping.

One issue that many people want to know about is the potential link between vaping and stomach pain.


Does Vaping Cause Stomach Pain?

So can vaping cause stomach pain? The short answer appears to be that yes, it can in some people and circumstances. 

There have been anecdotal reports that some people experience stomach pain during and after vaping, as well as related issues such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea. A number of studies have also started to emerge that show a correlation between vaping and stomach issues.

It’s worth bearing in mind that of those millions of vapers across the UK, many have not reported experiencing stomach pain from e-cigarettes. It is perfectly normal to be concerned, however, and it is important to have the information – as well as the e-cigarette – at your fingertips.


Many of the studies so far carried out to look at the impact of vaping on health have considered potential damage to the lings. One important study carried out at the UC San Diego School of Medicine and Moores Cancer Center, however, looked specifically at the effect of e-cigarettes on the human gut.

The study, published in 2021, found that chronic use of nicotine-free e-cigarettes led to a ‘leaky gut’. This allowed microbes and other molecules to seep out of the intestines, resulting in chronic inflammation.

The fact that the study involved nicotine-free e-cigarettes was important as nicotine is known to have an impact on the digestive system in and of itself. Researchers in the study found that two chemicals used as a base in e-cigarette liquid vapour or ‘vape juice’) were the cause of inflammation. These chemicals – propylene glycol and vegetable glycerol – are present in almost all vaping products.

The study authors said that inflammation of the gut could contribute to a variety of diseases and conditions, including inflammatory bowel disease, dementia, certain cancers, atherosclerosis, liver fibrosis, diabetes and arthritis.

A study of teens diagnosed with the vaping-linked respiratory disease EVALI also found that most were also suffering from gastrointestinal symptoms.

EVALI stands for e-cigarette, or vaping product use-associated lung injury and early symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and stomach pain. 

It is worth noting, though, that the brands of e-cigarettes most commonly associated with EVALI contain THC, the principal psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. This is not legal in the UK (although some CBD products are). Other e-cigarettes associated with EVALI include ones containing the thickening agent Vitamin E acetate – which is itself largely found in counterfeit e-cigarettes and vaping liquids.



Nicotine and Stomach Health

As tobacco has been around for a lot longer than vaping products, there have been more studies carried out on its short- and long-term effects. There are long-established links between smoking and stomach problems, but many of these may involve a number of harmful substances in cigarettes and other tobacco products.

Nicotine is a common factor in both tobacco and the majority of vaping products. Nicotine is now accepted as one of the major components responsible for gastrointestinal disorders, but, in many cases, nicotine is also interacting with the other substances in tobacco smoke.

Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products such as nicotine patches, gum and lozenges do not contain the harmful substances found in tobacco smoke, but nausea and other digestive problems are commonly listed side effects. 

A review of 120 studies involving a total of 177,390 individuals found a number of reported adverse effects when using NRT – including insomnia, heart palpitations or chest pains and gastrointestinal complaints. It found a ‘statistically significant increased risk’ of nausea or vomiting but also found that orally administered NRT caused a significantly greater risk for gastrointestinal complaints compared with using a nicotine patch.

The review suggests a definite link between nicotine and stomach pain, as well as other gastrointestinal issues, even when not delivered through cigarettes and other tobacco products.


Other Factors Contributing to Stomach Pain

Many other factors can cause or contribute to stomach pain. Many of these can be related to diet and lifestyle but can also be linked to illnesses of various kinds. Common causes of stomach pain can include indigestion, constipation, trapped wind, stomach bugs or food poisoning. Stress and pre-existing gastrointestinal conditions can also lead to stomach pain.

When managing stomach pain from vaping or even considering whether there is a link between any digestive issues you might be experiencing and vaping, it’s important to consider any other possible causes.


Vaping Risks and Potential Complications

As well as vaping side effects on digestion, vaping has a number of other potential risks. Nicotine is the main addictive element in both tobacco and the majority of vaping products, for example. 

There is also increasing evidence that vaping can be harmful to your heart and lungs – although it is still considered to be far less harmful than smoking.

As we have seen, there is growing evidence to show that vaping can cause stomach pain and digestive issues for some people. It’s worth noting that if you experience severe stomach pain, pain that does not go away or pain that keeps recurring, you should seek medical advice as it could be something more serious – whether related to vaping or not.

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John Gillen - Author - Last updated: September 8, 2023

John has travelled extensively around the world, culminating in 19 years’ experience looking at different models. He is the European pioneer of NAD+ (Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide) treatment to Europe in 2010; and recently back from the USA bringing state of the art Virtual Reality Relapse Prevention and stress reduction therapy. His passion extends to other metabolic disturbances and neurodegenerative diseases. The journey continues. In recent times, John has travelled to Russia to study and research into a new therapy photobiomudulation or systemic laser therapy working with NAD+ scientists and the very best of the medical professionals in the UK and the USA, together with Nadcell, Bionad Hospitals own select Doctors, nurses, dieticians and therapists. Johns’ passion continues to endeavour to bring to the UK and Europe new developments with NAD+ Therapy in preventive and restorative medicine and Wellness. In 2017 John Gillen was made a visiting Professor at the John Naisbitt university in Belgrade Serbia.