What is nicotine poisoning and how can it be prevented?

 nicotine poisoning

Nicotine is an addictive chemical that is found within tobacco products, such as combustible cigarettes. While it acts as a stimulant in small doses, larger amounts actually have the power to block various autonomic nerve and skeletal muscle cells. So, when a smoker puts a lit cigarette to their lips and inhales, approximately seven seconds later the drug is absorbed and begins mimicking the naturally occurring actions of the dopamine levels within the brain — emotions, movements, sensations, pleasures and pain. This surge of adrenaline — increased heart rate, heavy breathing and high blood pressure — quickly wear away leaving the body subject to a cycle of ongoing addiction. While nicotine can have a range of negative side effects on the body, nicotine poisoning is one of the deadliest possibilities.

What is nicotine poisoning?

While it’s not likely that you’ll overdose on nicotine just from smoking traditional cigarettes, nicotine poisoning can happen when you have too much in your body. That being said there are many factors that can determine a likely overdose — your body weight, the medications you’re using and where the nicotine came from.

How much nicotine can your body handle?

Your body absorbs roughly one-tenth of the nicotine from your daily combustible cigarette intake, which is roughly one milligram per smoke. That’s why it’s incredibly difficult to overdose from just smoking.

The Centre for Disease Control (CDC) has studied the effects of nicotine and believes that somewhere between 50 to 60 milligrams of nicotine can be deadly for a 150-pound adult. Although other studies suggest that it takes a lot more. Needless to say, while your daily smoking routine may not lead to a nicotine overdose, there’s a chance that if your kids or pets are able to get a hold of your cigarette pack that they pose a higher risk.

What are the symptoms of nicotine poisoning?

Be sure to keep an eye out for any of the following symptoms if you think that there’s a chance that your child or pet may have ingested nicotine. The following examples are typical side effects that show up within the first hour.

  • Nausea
  • Heavy breathing
  • High blood pressure
  • Stomachache
  • Looking pale
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness

The following examples are typical side effects that show up within four hours:

  • Diarrhea
  • Shallow breathing
  • Slow heartbeat
  • Low blood pressure
  • Lethargy
  • Seizures

What do you do for nicotine poisoning?

If any of the above symptoms become prevalent or if you have witnessed someone swallow nicotine, get liquid nicotine on their skin, or get nicotine in their eyes, please call poison control at 800-222-1222.

How do you prevent a nicotine overdose?

The best way, of course, is to simply ensure that you’re taking all the preventable measures to ensure that no little hands or paws can get into any of your nicotine products (cigarettes, nicotine patches, nicotine gum or e-cigarette supplies). Also, keeping your items locked away in another room or simply buying products with child-resistant packaging are good ways to take the proper precautions.

If you’re a vaper, rather than a smoker, then it’s important for you to slowly wean yourself to safer nicotine concentration levels. Over time, perhaps you’ll even be able to vape zero nicotine e-cigs, which is far less hazardous if it got into the wrong hands. Keep in mind that when you’re throwing away your empty bottles, thoroughly wash them out and place them in your recycling or take them back to your return-it depot.

Did you learn anything that you didn’t already know about nicotine poisoning? Tell us in the comments section below.

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