Nicotine Poisoning and Overdose

12 min

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We all know something about the toxic effect of nicotine, but do we know how it reveals itself? Here we’ve prepared a brief digest of nicotine related facts to cast light on the questions like Can you overdose on nicotine? What is nicotine poisoning?

In fact, people didn’t question nicotine in past, and we contribute it to several factors. Firstly, the nicotine market has evolved, issuing new versions of products, that contain toxic additions, not to mention the pesticides flooding tobacco fields for better crops. Nicotine-based products, like usual cigs, e-cigs, liquid nicotine are full of supportive elements, so they gradually shapeshift from a means of pleasure to the methods of massive destruction.

Secondly, the environment itself favors sensitivity to poisoning. We already get more chemicals from air, water, and food than generations before us. They suppress body’s ability to drain off toxins quickly, unraveling nicotine poisoning.

Nicotine is a chemical substance contained in tobacco, responsible for addictiveness. Some people are more susceptible to poisoning, especially kids. As reported by the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) about 50% of cases with nicotine poisoning are children under six.

Researchers report higher damage from consumption of pure nicotine in liquid form as in electronic cigarettes, compared to conventional tobacco smoking. Let’s review the symptoms of nicotine overdose.

Nicotine Overdose Symptoms

girl with a headache imageThe targets are the heart and nervous system. Regardless the dose, these take the first blow. As the outcomes are severe, the existence of the following symptoms is a fair reason to call a doctor. In case you have grounds to think your child has undergone nicotine exposure, any of these symptoms require emergency medical care.

The nicotine poisoning symptoms usually are:
– Nausea and vomiting (especially for kids)
– High blood pressure and abnormal heart rate (also referred to as arrhythmia)
– Dehydration (also reveals as headaches and vertigo)
– Appetite loss
– Fatigue, sometimes extreme
– Dizziness
– Headaches
– Hearing and vision disorders
– Gas
– Anxiety

These signs of nicotine poisoning do depend on the amount of nicotine, appear in certain succession, and last with different duration.

How long does nicotine poisoning last?

When you get too much nicotine symptoms, they come in stages. The mild overdose lasts for an hour or two and gets visible within the first 15 minutes up to one hour. In the severe case, the overdose lasts for 24 hours. The first-stage symptoms are feeling queasy, stomachache, mouth-watering, heavy breathing, elevated heartbeat, blood pressure jumps, off-balance, and headache. It is what you enlive in the first quarter of an hour.

Within the next four hours come shallow breathing, slowing of the heartbeat, low blood pressure, slow reflexes, weakness, seizures. This bright list naturally leads you to the question: How to get rid of nicotine poisoning? The first thing we think of is avoiding the causes.

The Causes of Nicotine Poisoning

Primarily, today more people are suffering nicotine poisoning in an effort to continue consumption of their favorite drug when cutting on poorly advertised tobacco smoking. Therefore, the leading source of nicotine poisoning is liquid nicotine and smokeless tobacco. People consider these products safer and therefore consume them in higher doses, while, in reality, they offer pure or concentrated nicotine. As the result, a user gets a double hit.

The lethal dose of nicotine for adults is 30 to 60 milligrams of nicotine as reported by Archives of Toxicology. In most cases, fatality isn’t that common, as many people crush before consumption of the deadly amount. For kids, who have naturally smaller bodies that can’t stand strong nicotine exposure, the effects may be more critical.

Adults who smoked cigarettes before switching to vaping get a lower risk of taking too much nicotine, than the newbie vapers. Also, if you happen to try two different nicotine products in a chain, like smoking cigarettes and vaping, or vaping and applying a nicotine patch, the risk of nicotine sickness elevates.

Avoiding poisoning is not just about stopping the intake of smoke or vapor. It considers cessation of second-hand smoking, like skipping ban-free places. Moreover, we have to beware of third-hand nicotine consumption from clothing, carpets, and fabrics. Children are exceptionally vulnerable to it, especially small ones, who get nicotine contained dust clutching to their parents’ clothing.

The risk group includes tobacco plants and field workers, as well as factory packers and all who contact with nicotine in any way.

If, due to some reasons, you can’t skip exposure and suffer poisoning the nicotine poisoning treatment is needed.

The Treatment of Nicotine Poisoning

doctor's helping handNicotine poisoning treatment always depends on the amount of nicotine taken. A patient receives activated charcoal for binding the dangerous chemical and keeping it from further absorption into the blood. Sometimes a sufferer stops breathing, and in this case, doctors use the ventilator to send oxygen to the lungs. The profound effects of nicotine exposure get blocked by antidotes. These steps are only the primary treatment you get. Other measures involve a particular approach to every organ that got the most damage.

If you notice the nicotine overdose symptoms in some of the close people, you have to give them pre-medical aid. If the person is conscious, help them fix the body comfortably when waiting for help. If a person can’t sit vertically, let them lie on their side to prevent choking on vomit. Turn the unconscious person to their side as well for the same reason.

The sufferer shouldn’t force themselves to vomit, neither they should have food or liquids. When first noticing the nicotine overdose symptoms, call the poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. They will provide all the needed instruction about actions to undertake. They work 24/7 to provide the informational aid. If the poisoning isn’t severe, they’ll tell you how to seize symptoms before visiting a doctor. In the worst-case scenario, call 911.

The best treatment of tobacco poisoning is prevention. If you already are a nicotine user, some measures may turn helpful. The AAPCC recommends doing the following:
– Using liquid nicotine, protect your skin.
– Keep and dispose of the products correctly.
– Keep products away from children and don’t leave tobacco containers within their reach.
– Don’t smoke, chew or vape nicotine in the presence of kids.
– Throw away, e-cig items and tobacco butts out the reach of pets or kids, and when used on the street, always put them into the trash bin.
– Add the phone number of the Poison Control Center’s helpline number (800-222-1222) to the emergency list to always have it at hand.


To sum up, we remind that the best treatment is prevention and it’s better to avoid poisoning than suffer the symptoms. If you still happen to overdose, remember that time isn’t on your side, and fast aid is vital. Try to do everything correctly, stick to doctor’s advice to help yourself or your closest survive this period with least pain.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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David Brown

Smoker for 20 years, switched to vaping 5 years ago. Never felt better since then. The best decision in my life. Proficient in DIY e-juices and custom coil builds. Vape collection - Wismec Noisy Cricket, SMOK Majesty Luxe, Augvape Druga, Dr. Dabber Aurora, Vaporesso Revenger Favorite e-juices - American Patriots by Naked 100, Tobacconist by Element Absinthe , Cosmic Fog Chill'd Tobacco, Starry Night by Quiet Owl