Vapes could inhibit a person’s sense of taste and smell, new research into the health impacts of vaping has suggested.
It tested 213 people aged 18 or older who used vapes regularly, occasionally, or never. They were classified as vapers or non-vapers based on their use in the past six months.
The results of a simple sensory detection test showed that non-vapers found “sweet” smells more pleasant than vapers, whereas there was no difference for “savoury” taste or smell.
The test included comparing a plain water sample and a lightly flavoured water sample, and could indicate that vaping has an inhibiting effect on our senses.
“We know smoking can be a cause of smell dysfunction and taste changes, but the mechanisms that cause smell decline in smoking might not necessarily apply to vaping, so it was really interesting that we found a difference between our vapers and non-vapers that is consistent with studies of smokers,” said lead author Dr Jessica McCormack.
“We still have more we need to know about what the mechanisms might be here. Is it related to the use of flavours or nicotine or a combination?”
Other tests included participants tasting and smelling different tastes and odours diffused in simple solutions.
“Participants rated the pleasantness and intensity of the smell and taste samples and did a simple sensory detection test where they had to guess between a plain water sample and the taste and smell at a very low concentration,” McCormack said.
She said that changes in smell and taste could also be linked to dietary changes, so the study wanted to understand the effects of vaping long-term, particularly in those who are not former or current smokers.
“Another reason might be that nicotine enhances the reinforcement of stimuli, so in the absence of nicotine sweet smells might seem less pleasant,” she said.
McCormack said that one implication of altered senses could be that vaping was affecting the diets of regular users. However, she said further studies would need to be carried out to better understand its full influence on the senses.