Here is How to Avoid Hookah Sickness – Tips for Beginners

Written by Jacob - Hookah Enthusiast

Last updated May 11, 2023

If you are a novice at smoking and are wondering if hookah can make you sick, then you’re at the right place. Yes, indeed, hookah sickness does exist and it can hit you in many different ways. The side effects of smoking shisha are especially prominent in first time smokers as they don’t yet have the know-how on how to avoid them.

Worry not, as today’s article is all about that.

What is hookah sickness exactly?

Hookah sickness also known as “nicotine sickness” refers to multiple short-term symptoms that may occur during or after smoking shisha. Sometimes, these arise as a result of smoking too much hookah, especially in novice smokers who haven’t yet mastered their vaping skills. However, the side effects of shisha may be induced by different factors which we’ll explore in detail shortly. What’s important to know is that shisha sickness is not a real sickness but rather an unpleasant experience which shouldn’t discourage you from smoking. If anything, you need to get deeper into the smoking culture and learn how to enjoy your hookah to the fullest.

What are the symptoms of hookah sickness?

Most of the hookah sickness symptoms are actually due to the nicotine contents. Since nicotine is such a powerful stimulant, it’s quite common to experience dizziness after smoking. This is especially true for people who are new to the experience and can’t quite gauge the amount of smoking that they do, as well as for those who smoke on occasion. You may feel one or many of the following hookah symptoms at the same time:

  • Dizziness – due mostly to the nicotine in the shisha, feeling dizzy is often accompanied by lightheadedness and a “tingling” sensation. Some people actively seek these feelings in conjunction with relaxation but for those new in smoking, it can feel quite uncomfortable. To avoid dizziness due to nicotine in shisha, it’s advisable to use tobacco-free herbal shisha or choose brands that contain less nicotine.
  • Headaches – as a stimulant, nicotine increases blood pressure, which in turn can result in tightness in the back of your head. These hookah headaches are really unpleasant and can turn off some people, and discourage them from smoking shisha. Needless to say, this, as well as the rest of the unpleasant hookah symptoms, can be avoided with a little bit of knowledge.
  • Nausea – some people get an upset stomach when smoking hookah too fast or with nothing to eat. It can be a mild or a strong sensation, and some people can even get sick. This is because shisha has many effects on the body’s chemistry, including fluctuations in sugar levels.

You can limit this effect by going for tabacco-free shisha. There is no tabacco added in these mixtures, so you won’t experience the effects of nicotine rush.


What are the reasons to get headaches or dizziness when you smoke hookah?

So, we’ve already touched on the main culprit behind hookah sickness – the nicotine. There can be a varying amount of nicotine in the different shisha brands and there are also those with little to no nicotine, which are actually a minority on the market. Nicotine is the main ingredient that gives you that buzzy feeling when smoking. Most smokers experience relaxation along with it but others can have a “hookah hangover” if they aren’t too careful about their smoking practice.

Hookah sickness shouldn’t be accepted as the norm and you must establish good shisha smoking practices to avoid it.

The main reasons why hookah is making you sick are:

  • Dehydration
  • Smoking on an empty stomach
  • Nicotine that is too strong for them
  • Lack of oxygen in the room
  • Improperly lit charcoal
  • Quick lighting charcoal
  • Too much shisha bowls on a given day
  • Smoking too fast

How to avoid hookah sickness?


  • Drink water or tea and stay hydrated – it is well worth hydrating your body to avoid hookah headaches and migraines. Make sure to drink enough water or your favorite tea throughout the entire day and not only during a smoking session as it takes time to distribute the water throughout your body and acclimate to the new levels of hydration. Avoid alcoholic beverages, coffee, and other party drinks as they will dehydrate you further, especially if combined with shisha smoking.
  • Do not smoke on an empty stomach – to avoid the nauseous feeling when smoking hookah, make sure to eat something during your session. Make a light spread, it will help to settle your stomach and avoid nicotine sickness. Having something to munch on while experiencing the full joy of shisha smoking is essential not only for your personal experience but also for the entire group, if it’s a group gathering.
  • Start with a lower nicotine percentage – as mentioned previously, shisha contains nicotine which provides the good “buzz” feeling but can also cause you to feel nauseous and dizzy. If you’re not a regular smoker, it’s advisable to start with shisha brands that contain a lower percentage of nicotine or with nicotine-free products such as the herbal shisha.
  • Use natural coconut coals – using natural coconut coals is one of the best ways to avoid hookah sickness because they are made from natural coconut husks and do not contain any harmful chemicals or additives. Unlike other types of coals, such as quick-light coals or wood coals, which contain chemicals that can be harmful when burned, coconut coals burn at a lower temperature and produce less smoke and ash. This means that you will inhale fewer harmful chemicals and toxins while smoking hookah, which will reduce your risk of experiencing hookah sickness. Coconut coals also last longer and are more environmentally friendly than other types of coals.
  • Always use a mouth tip – when you share a hookah with others, you are potentially exposing yourself to germs and bacteria that can cause illness. A mouth tip is a disposable plastic tip that attaches to the end of the hookah hose and creates a barrier between your mouth and the hose. This helps to reduce the spread of germs and bacteria, which can help prevent the transmission of viruses and illness. In addition to reducing the spread of germs, using a mouth tip can also help to minimize the amount of harmful chemicals that you inhale while smoking hookah. The mouth tip acts as a filter, trapping some of the harmful chemicals and preventing them from entering your body.

 There are two more reasons behind the bad experience of beginner hookah smokers. They are not as common and won’t be an issue if you are not preparing the hookah on your own. We will talk about them in case you are a complete novice, that just bought your fist hookah and you want to try it at home.

  • Make sure you shisha is not expired. Often times people stock on different flavors and don’t store them correctly which can make the shisha to go bad. Make sure you know how to store shisha correctly before stock piling flavors.
  • And last but not least, you need to know how to prepare the hookah for your smoking session. If you don’t do that correctly, it could lead to bad smoking experience and even hookah sickness.



In conclusion, smoking hookah can be an exciting and enjoyable social activity, but you shouldn’t turn a blind eye to hookah sickness as a side effect. By following these tips for beginners, you can reduce your risk of experiencing negative health effects from smoking hookah.

So choose your next hookah flavor and dive into a safe and thrilling mouth-watering shisha experience.

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