Your Guide to Vapers Tongue (Flavour fatigue)

Your Guide to Vapers Tongue (Flavour fatigue)

I’m going to go off the beaten track from my usual eliquid reviews a little today, and tackle a topic that I’ve noticed a lot of vapers ask about lately. Flavour Fatigue.

We’ve all heard of flavour fatigue, or “Vapers Tongue”, which is, “not being able to taste certain flavours that we could before”.

The thing is, this is a much more complicated subject than many elude to. It’s not just as simple as, “You’ve vaped too much”, or “It happens from time to time”. There are real reasons for it, some easier to solve than others.

To understand why we get Flavour Fatigue we need to know how our senses work


The above image was aquired from LiveMint and explains things alot better than I can!

Our chemosensory system enhances and amplifies new flavours or scents, and the more we are exposed to them, the less prominence or amplification of that flavour happens. Sometimes being exposed to a flavour in extreme amounts for extended periods of time will also shut off the nerve’s processing of that flavour, leaving you wondering why you just can’t taste much of your favourite ejuice anymore.

The reason for the nerve’s failure to register the known and safe stimuli is self preservation. If every sensation and stimuli were continuously being reported to the brain, then our nervous system would become overloaded and new and possibly potentially dangerous tastes and smells could go by unnoticed.

Ever notice that an e liquid or e juice with a profile that you normally wouldn’t vape has an instant impact on you the first time you try it? You seem to be able to taste every note and every nuance?

Ever tried an eliquid or ejuice in a vape store, thought it was brilliant, but then when you got home and had a vape, realised that It’s not quite as good as you thought it was?

Too much of a good thing is a bad thing

This is because its a new flavour that your tastebuds and olfactory system are not used to. The more you vape it, the more that your chemosensory begins to believe that it is no longer new, and not harmful, so will dial back the amount of signals that the stimuli will send to your brain, in order to focus on other newer stimuli to report on.

In a way, we are all suffering from the effects of at least some degree of flavour compensation or flavour exhaustion, on even a small scale whether we notice it or not.

Other Causes of Flavour Fatigue

Dehydration

In order for you to register taste, exposed food or chemicals must first dissolve in saliva. Once dissolved, the chemicals can be detected by receptors on taste buds. No saliva through dehydration = Limited ability to taste.

Medication

Some drugs can make things taste differently, or they can cause a metallic, salty, or bittervtaste in your mouth. Taste changes are especially common among elderly patients who take multiple medications.

Age

As we get older our Gustatory and Olfactory systems do not operate as well as they may have when we were younger.
The number of olfactory fibres, and olfactory receptors, along with the slower regeneration of tastebuds which also decline in quantity as we age, directly cause our sense of smell and taste to decline.

Damage to Olfactory or Gustatory sensors

This one is pretty obvious, if you shovel some hot soup during dinner, and burn your tastebuds, they are going to go into repair mode, or regeneration mode and you’ll not taste as well as you did before. The same goes with inhaling potentially dangerous chemicals or other substances. If you damage some of your olfactory fibres, your sense of smell will be impaired.

So what are the symptoms of Flavour Fatigue?

  • Weaker than usual flavour intensity
    You might notice that one of your favourite flavours is just not that strong anymore.
  • Not enjoying favourite flavour profiles anymore
    Your favourite flavours dont seem to be as complex any longer, or that they seem to be more one dimensional
  • Noticing new nuances that were not there before
    Flavours take on a new taste. You start to notice background flavours more than the main notes.
  • Pretty much ANY change in how you perceive a flavour you have previously enjoyed.

I have Flavour Fatigue! How do I fix it?

When we have flavour fatigue, we all want an instant fix to it. Unfortunately there really isn’t one. Because Flavour Fatigue is the chemosensory system ignoring stimuli that it is used to, we really have to wait for it to become un-used to it again. In which case, only time is going to fix things.

There are a few things you can try though, and some have had great success with some of them.

Drinking water

This isnt going to instantly fix your flavour fatigue, but it will re-hydrate you, and if you’re already dehydrated, it will allow your mouth to generate saliva, which we all know is important for you to be able to taste anything. Considering that vaping dehydrates you, you should up your intake of water anyway.

Brush your teeth

This solution is along the same lines as vaping a menthol juice. The coolness combined with cleaning your teeth can help reset those taste buds, at the very least it will make you feel a lot fresher!

Switch things up

Instead of heading straight for an e liquid that has the same profile of what you would normally vape, try something a little different! If you’re a custard vaper, go grab a fruity menthol ejuice, and vice versa. Variety is the spice of life, it is also something that your tastebuds thrive on!

Sniffing Coffee

The smell of coffee has been used as an olfactory cleanser in the perfume industry for… ever! Its why you see bowls or jars of coffee on perfume counters in department stores. Its believed that the strong scent of coffee can ‘wake’ your senses from olfactory fatigue and allow you to smell new fragrances again.

Chew or Drink something with an extreme flavour

Much akin to “smelling coffee” but this is for your taste buds. Again, its believed that an unusually strong flavour can reset and wake up your gustatory system and allow you to taste all flavours again. Good examples of these are lemon, lime, vinegar, as well as many others.

Go smell yourself!

Its widely believed that olfactory fatigue is baselined against your aclimatisation of your own scent.
That ability to push your natural smell to the background sets the baseline against what any other olfactory stimuli has to compete against.
Its worth a shot! Get a whiff of your arm or other easy to access, unperfumed piece of flesh!

How do we “prevent” Flavour Fatigue?

All of those cures to try above are great but prevention is always better than cure.

Variety is the spice of life

The best thing I can advise is to give your palate a variety of flavours so that it does not get hung up on one thing. We know that our chemosensory system can acclimatise to known flavours, so don’t let it get too used to the one thing!

Drink plenty of water

Vapers get dehydrated. Your sense of taste relies on saliva. Its simple,stay hydrated and you’ll be giving yourself a good shot at keeping that flavour coming!

Others

In the cases of getting olfactory or gustatory fatigue whilst on medications, or due to age, or illness, I can only advise to seek an appropriate medical practitioner. Medical or medication causes of fatigue are best left to the experts, they will be able to work personally with you and your concerns to find a suitable solution.

Conclusion

Vapers Tongue really sucks when it happens, I know, as I suffer from it all of the time.

I hope this has helped some of you understand how and why Flavour Fatigue happens, and what you can do to avoid it, or if you have it already, fix it.

If you have any tips on how to get rid of flavour fatigue, please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments, I’m always looking for new things to try, and I’m sure many of my readers will also be curious about new techniques.

 

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Shane Presser
Shane Presser has been vaping since 2013, and has extensive experience with advanced equipment, coil builds and DIY mixing. He is the man behind VapersGarage, and also more recently the Vape Database (www.thevapedb.com), a resource to help vapers find hardware and equipment based on their individual needs.
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