If you’re a vaper and have a doctor’s appointment coming up, you might be wondering if your doctor will be able to guess you vape from your examination.
To help you understand what doctors can and can’t tell – and also to explain why complete honesty with your doctor is always the best policy – in this post, we answer the question, can doctors tell if you vape?
Can doctors tell You Vape by looking in your mouth or throat?
First of all, one of the ways you might imagine a doctor or dentist might be able to tell you’re a vaper is if they look inside your mouth or check your throat – so can they work out if you vape from just this?
The answer is that they might suspect you’re a vaper, but they won’t be able to tell for sure unless they ask you and you confirm their suspicions.
One of the first tell-tale signs that you vape is that it causes you to have a dry mouth. This is because of two ingredients that are commonly found in vapes, propylene glycol (PG) and nicotine, which both cause your mouth to produce less saliva.
This means if you go to see a doctor just after vaping, you will probably have a dry mouth, and they will probably guess that you’ve been vaping quite recently.
However, that’s not all.
Many other oral health issues can be caused or exacerbated by vaping, and if your doctor or dentist finds any of these clues, they may also suspect you’ve been vaping.
For example, issues such as gum disease, cavities, and oral infections that aren’t healing can all be signs of vaping – and all of these can then be made worse by the dry mouth you get from vaping.
Again, as we mentioned, if a doctor or dentist finds these clues in your mouth, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve been vaping, but vaping could be a possible cause, and as a result, your doctor or dentist may ask you about it.
Can doctors tell You Vape from a blood test?
How about from blood tests? Can doctors tell if you’ve been vaping from this? The answer to this is yes, they can, or at least they can detect nicotine – especially if they’re looking for it – but it also depends on how long it’s been since you last vaped.
The half-life of nicotine is about two hours, which means your body processes and breaks down half of the nicotine in your system every two hours.
In other words, two hours after your last vape, there will be half as much nicotine in your system, and two hours after this, there will be half as much again – and so on until all the nicotine is broken down and none remains.
However, when nicotine is broken down, it is converted into certain metabolites, of which the most important is cotinine, and these can stay in your blood for much longer – cotinine can be detected up to 10 days after your last vape, depending on several factors.
This means if a doctor does a blood test, they will find cotinine in your system, and this will tell them you’ve been ingesting nicotine.
Technically, this won’t tell them that you’ve been vaping since the same effect can be caused by smoking – as well as things like nicotine patches and nicotine gum – but it will give them a clue, and they may then ask you about it directly.
At this point, it’s also worth mentioning that this only holds true for vaping nicotine vape juices – but if you only vape nic-free juice, there’s no way for your vaping habit to show up in a blood test.
What factors affect how long cotinine remains in your blood?
Although around 10 days is the maximum amount of time cotinine can be detected in your blood, there are several factors at play that may mean it is processed faster or more slowly. These include the following:
Nicotine and cotinine are processed more slowly the older you get.
If you have a higher proportion of muscle, nicotine and cotinine will be processed faster – but if you have a higher proportion of fat, they will disappear more slowly.
Drinking more water causes nicotine and cotinine to be processed faster.
Nicotine and cotinine are processed faster in the bodies of people who do more physical activity.
Frequency of vaping
If you vape more frequently, it will constantly top up your levels of nicotine, so it will take longer for nicotine and cotinine to leave your body.
Finally, some people just naturally metabolize nicotine and cotinine faster than others.
Can nicotine or cotinine be picked up in anything else?
Other than in your blood, are there any other ways doctors can tell if you’ve been vaping?
In short, there are – or rather, there are ways they can tell you’ve been ingesting nicotine – but the doctor may still need you to confirm your vaping habit if they suspect you’re a vaper.
Nicotine and cotinine show up in saliva and urine, so if your doctor carries out a test on these, they may be able to detect the presence of nicotine or its metabolites.
However, the evidence of nicotine in saliva and urine disappears much faster than it does from blood.
On the other hand, nicotine and its metabolites can also be found in hair, so if a doctor carries out a test on your hair, they may be able to find evidence of nicotine consumption several months after your last vape.
But again, this is evidence for the consumption of nicotine and not necessarily of vaping per se.
Can doctors tell You Vape in any other ways?
Other than by checking in your mouth and throat or by doing tests on blood, saliva, urine or hair, there are few ways for a doctor to confirm that you are a vaper, even if they suspect it from certain clues they notice.
If you go to the doctor complaining of a loss of taste, this is a common symptom of a condition known as vaper’s tongue, so this might suggest to a doctor that you vape.
However, other than symptoms like this, there’s not much that’s going to give away your habit to a doctor unless you go into their office smelling of strawberries and cream or whatever other vape juice you’d been enjoying just before your appointment.
Is vaping bad for you?
While some people might prefer to keep their vaping secret from their doctor, it’s important to realize that vaping is considered much less harmful than smoking tobacco, making vaping a preferable choice to tobacco if you’re trying to give up.
Although there are some concerns about the potential harm vaping might cause, nothing has been proven conclusively, and according to some sources, vaping is still considered 95% less harmful than smoking, despite the risks.
This means if you’re a smoker and are worried about your health, switching to a high-quality disposable vape such as the Katana BP10000 from Spiritbar could be the solution you are looking for to help you quit.
Each of these vapes contains enough juice – with a nicotine content of 50mg/ml – for up to 10,000 puffs.
Such devices and the nicotine hit they deliver can help you fight the urge to light up a cigarette, allowing you to lead a much healthier life, despite the potential risks – since even if vapes do prove to be harmful to health, they are still likely to be a lot less bad for you than cigarettes.
Why you shouldn’t keep vaping a secret from your doctor
Although there are several reasons why you might want to hide your vaping habit from your doctor, it’s not advisable to do so.
Of course, if you are taking out health insurance, you may be offered a lower premium if you are a non-smoker and non-vaper, so you may hope to pass certain tests to “prove” you don’t smoke or vape.
Alternatively, you might be an underage vaper, and you want to hide your habit from your parents.
However, generally speaking, if you visit a doctor because of some kind of medical condition or to diagnose certain symptoms you are displaying, the best option is to be honest with your doctor about everything – and that includes vaping.
If you keep your vaping secret, it may mean the doctor orders more general tests because your vaping is skewing the tests you’ve already undergone, and it may make it harder for the doctor to make a positive diagnosis.
Doctors are also legally bound to keep any information you give them confidential, so you don’t need to worry about other people finding out.
So in short, if you go to see a doctor, it’s best to be open about your vaping or smoking habits since this will allow your doctor to help ensure the best medical outcomes for you.
Doctors can guess – but it’s best to tell them anyway
As we’ve seen, doctors can pick up certain clues from your oral health that may tell them you’re a vaper – and blood tests as well as tests on saliva, urine and hair can also alert them to the presence of nicotine.
However, there are very few reasons why you would want to keep your vaping a secret from your doctor, and it’s always much better to be honest and upfront with them to allow them to provide you with the best possible healthcare you might need.