How long does Nicotine stay in your System ?


Nicotine is a chemical containing nitrogen that is produced naturally and synthetically. The one that is found in tobacco plant is called Nicotiana tabacum. If you smoke tobacco, the nicotine content will be absorbed by the body through the tiny air sac’s lining in the lungs. Apart from smoking, the nicotine in tobacco can also be introduced into the body through chewing and sniffing.

In this article, we are going to discuss the effects of nicotine in the body, how long does tobacco (Nicotine, cotinine) stay in your System ? – the window of detection, the different tests used to detect nicotine in the body, and the different ways to make your body free from nicotine. (1, 2)

Nicotine, being addictive in nature is prone to abuse. Which is why various institutions require their employees and staff to undergo nicotine test and other forms of drug screening test.

How long does Nicotine stay in your System – Infographic

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Image 1: A nicotine is one of the highly addictive substances in the world.
Picture Source: ste.india.com

Effects of Nicotine in the body

#1 : Stimulant and Sedative effect

Nicotine has a sedative and stimulant effect to the body. Once nicotine is introduced into the body, it slowly stimulated the adrenal glands leading to the release of hormone adrenaline. The nicotine user describes the experience as a “kick” characterized by rapid heart rate, a spike in blood pressure, and intense breathing.

There is also a significant increase in blood sugar as nicotine significantly affects the production of insulin. Nicotine can stimulate the release of dopamine. It is a neurotransmitter responsible for causing a pleasurable sensation. The feeling is similar to that of taking cocaine or heroin. Nicotine does have a sedative effect on the body too.

However, the effect varies from one person to another. Every person has a unique biochemical makeup and reacts differently to different stimulus. (1, 2, 3)

#2 : Pharmacologic effect

Nicotine isn’t all that bad. When used the right way and in right amount could have desirable effects on the body. These include the following:

  • Increased alertness
  • Euphoria (intense pleasure)
  • improved memory and concentration
  • Reduced anxiety
  • Stimulates intestinal motility (2, 3)

How is Nicotine processed by the body?

An inhaled tobacco would only take about 8 to 20 seconds to reach the brain. It enters the bloodstream and easily crosses the blood-brain barrier. Within 2 hours’ period, half of the inhaled nicotine will leave the body. However, the nicotine’s ability to enter the body primarily depends on the following:

  • Type of tobacco used
  • The way it is introduced to the body (smoking/inhalation/chewing/snorting)
  • Use of filter/types of filter used (4, 5)

Nicotine Addiction

Cigarettes contain a high level of nicotine. Heavy smokers can consume at least one pack of cigarettes in a day How long does Nicotine stay in your System image photo picture

Photo 2: Cigarettes contain a high level of nicotine. Heavy smokers can consume at least one pack of cigarettes in a day.
Picture Source: www.independent.com

nicotine withdrawal symptoms

 

Image 3: Many people who quit nicotine experienced nicotine withdrawal symptoms.
Picture Source: ecigarettereviewed.com

How much is too much? Can you really get addicted to nicotine? The answer is a big YES! As a matter of fact, nicotine is one of the most difficult substances to quit. If you have been taking nicotine and you decided to stop it abruptly, you will experience withdrawal symptoms.

Nicotine withdrawal symptoms are as follows:

  • Intense craving for nicotine
  • Excessive salivation
  • Anxiety
  • Mood swings
  • Depression
  • Easy irritability
  • Poor concentration
  • A sense of emptiness

Should you wish to quit nicotine use, you have to do it slowly to prevent the above-mentioned withdrawal symptoms. The best way to quit nicotine is to taper it down. That way, the level of addictiveness will be reduced significantly. (5, 6 , 7, 8)

How long does Nicotine stay in your system

There are various factors affecting the body’s ability to clear nicotine. The following factors affect the length of time nicotine stays in your system.

  • The frequency of use – Nicotine smokers are grouped into three: light smokers (once a week), moderate smokers (three times a week), and heavy smokers (daily basis). Light smokers would take two to three days to completely clear traces of nicotine. On the other hand, heavy smokers would take at least a year after the last exposure to clear up traces of nicotine.
  • Age – Older people will find it difficult to clear traces of nicotine.
  • Race – Several studies were conducted and revealed that African-Americans and Asian-Americans have a hard time metabolizing nicotine. On the other hand, Hispanic and Caucasian metabolize nicotine pretty easily.
  • Hormonal changes – Hormones can significantly affect the body’s ability to metabolize nicotine. Research showed that those taking estrogen hormone and pregnant women metabolize nicotine faster than men.
  • Liver function – The condition of the liver can affect the body’s ability to metabolize nicotine. The speed of metabolism primarily depends on the liver enzymes.
  • Medications – Some types of medications can hasten or slow the body’s ability to metabolize nicotine. Examples of drugs that can speed up nicotine absorption include antibiotics and Phenobarbitals. On the other hand, drugs that slow down the metabolism of nicotine include antifungals and blood pressure drugs. (8, 9, 10, 11)

How long does Nicotine stay in your blood?

A blood test is one of the accurate ways to detect the presence of nicotine in the body. The window of detection in the blood varies depending on the amount of nicotine you take and the time of your last use.

Ideally, if you smoke a cigarette, approximately 1 mg of nicotine enters the blood. It will be completely eliminated from the body within one to three days. However, cotinine, the metabolite of nicotine will take about 10 days to leave the body. It is the primary reason why testing centers usually look for cotinine than nicotine. (10, 11)

How long does Nicotine stay in your urine?

Urine has a longer window of detection than the blood sample. Nicotine can be detected in urine within 3 to 4 days after the last use. However, if you smoke regularly or a passive smoker, nicotine stays longer in the urine. It would take 15 to 20 days for nicotine to clear up in the urine. (11, 12)

How long does nicotine stay in your saliva?

It can detect nicotine in the saliva within four days after the last use. (4, 5)

How long does nicotine stay in your hair?

The hair follicle has the longest window of detection for it can detect nicotine use for up to a year after the last use. However, it is not reliable in detecting immediate nicotine use. Hair follicles would usually take a few weeks to grow and that’s the best time to check nicotine in the hair follicles. (11, 13)

Nicotine Drug Test

#1 : Blood test for nicotine

A blood sample is drawn from the patient’s upper arm How long does Nicotine stay in your System image photo picture

Photo 4: A blood sample is drawn from the patient’s upper arm.
Picture Source: vaping360.com

This test is one of the most accurate and reliable ways to detect nicotine in the body, especially for immediate nicotine use.

How is it done?

  • A blood sample is collected on either left or right arm. The collection site is 3 to 4 inches above the elbow just within the elbow pit.
  • A bandage is wrapped around the arm and the collection site is cleaned using 70% alcohol solution.
  • The skin is pulled tight and with a sterile needle, a quick thrust is made to gently penetrate the vein.
  • The plunger is pulled and an adequate sample of blood is drawn.
  • The bandage wrapped around the arm is released, the needle is removed, and a gauze is placed on the collection site.
  • The blood sample will be immediately sent to the laboratory. (11, 12, 13, 14)

Urine Drug Test

Test strips that help detect nicotine in urine are available over the counter How long does Nicotine stay in your System image photo picture

Image 5: Test strips that help detect nicotine in urine are available over the counter.
Picture Source: images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com

The urine test/urinalysis is one of the commonly used and cost-effective ways of testing the presence of nicotine in the body. In fact, you can do it on your own right in the comfort of your home. There are over the counter test strip and all you need to do is to catch a clean urine and dip the strip for at least five minutes.

There is a positive and negative indicator and it can be easily interpreted by you. The advantages of a urine nicotine test are that it is cost-efficient, non-invasive procedure, and yields to instant result. However, it is quite easy to alter the result. (14, 15)

Nicotine Hair Test

This test has the longest window of detection. It can detect nicotine use for up to 90 days after the last use. In fact, the window of detection could extend to up to a year from the last use. If you are a nicotine user, it would be impossible for you to clean up nicotine in the hair follicle quickly. It is nearly impossible to cheat.

Exposure to second-hand smoke will not yield to a positive nicotine use. About 2 inches of hair is needed for the hair follicle test. If you are bald, then hair in other parts of the body can be used. This test is a bit expensive, which is one of the reasons why it is rarely used. (15, 16, 17)

Nicotine Saliva Test

An over-the-counter small device that helps check nicotine in the saliva How long does Nicotine stay in your System image photo picture

Image 6: An over-the-counter small device that helps check nicotine in the saliva.
Picture Source: cdn.shopify.com

A nicotine saliva test yields to instant result. It can detect nicotine within 48 hours after the last use. In fact, it can also detect second-hand smoke. This test can be done at home using over the counter nicotine saliva test strip.

It comes with a spit container wherein you need to spit your saliva and make sure that it is half full. Squeeze at least eight drops of saliva on the strip and wait for the reading indicator. (11, 17, 18)

How to effectively clear nicotine from the body?

What can you do to effectively and thoroughly clear nicotine from your body? How to pass a nicotine test? Although nicotine is highly addicting, quitting is still possible, especially if you are already decided to quit nicotine.

However, if you had just stopped using nicotine and you are bound to undergo a nicotine test, you might be wondering if there are things you can do to guarantee that there will be no traces of nicotine/cotinine in your system. (17, 18)

To increase your chances of passing nicotine test, you might want to consider the following:

  • The best way to achieve a negative nicotine test is to completely stop taking it. As much as possible, you have to stop taking nicotine for at least seven days or three weeks before the test.
  • When undergoing a nicotine urine test, you can somehow increase the possibility of having a negative nicotine test by drinking a lot of water prior to the test. This helps nicotine leave your body faster through the urine. Aside from drinking water, you can also increase your intake of organic fluids such as cranberry juice and green tea.
  • Increase your intake of foods rich in antioxidants as they can help hasten the body’s detoxification process. Examples of foods rich in antioxidants are green leafy vegetables, fruits, and nuts. As much as possible, you need to load your diet with foods rich in vitamin C such as lemons, pineapples, mango, strawberries, limes, and citrusy foods.
  • Promote proper blood circulation by engaging in various forms of physical activities such as brisk walking, jogging, and other forms of exercise that helps you sweat a lot. It will make you pee and sweat, which means that nicotine is removed through the sweat and urine. Not to mention, it regulates the normal flow of blood in various parts of the body.
  • Increase the intake of food that can increase the production of bile in the liver. The higher the liver enzymes, the faster it is for the body to remove nicotine. Foods that increase the production of liver enzymes include onions, garlic, and egg yolks.
  • There are over the counter detox drinks that claim to help your body get rid of toxins. Before drinking any types of detox drink, make sure you consult your doctor. Some detox drinks may have side effects, especially for people with immune compromised conditions.
  • Make yourself busy. Nicotine is highly addictive. Even though you already decided to stop, there are instances when your body craves for it and that is just normal. What you need to do is to not give in to your craving. By keeping yourself busy, your attention will be focused on other things rather than giving in to your nicotine craving. (18, 19, 20)

 

References:

  1. https://www.healthline.com/health/quit-smoking/how-long-does-nicotine-stay-in-your-system
  2. http://vaping360.com/how-long-does-nicotine-stay-in-system/
  3. https://www.fastmed.com/health-resources/how-long-does-nicotine-stay-in-your-blood/
  4. https://vapingdaily.com/nicotine-replacement-therapy/how-long-does-nicotine-stay-in-your-system/
  5. https://www.directvapor.com/blog/how-long-nicotine-in-system-745/
  6. https://www.whitecloudelectroniccigarettes.com/blog/nicotine-testing-employment/
  7. https://www.webmd.com/smoking-cessation/taking-nicotine-test#1
  8. https://www.vaporvanity.com/long-nicotine-stay-system/
  9. https://healthfully.com/long-flush-nicotine-body-5460148.html
  10. https://durablehealth.net/drugs/how-long-tobacco-stay-system-get-out-pass-test/
  11. http://www.healthgoesup.com/articles/335/1/how-long-does-nicotine-stay-in-your-system-1.html
  12. https://www.healthresource4u.com/how-long-does-tobacco-stay-in-your-system.html
  13. http://www.primehealthchannel.com/how-long-does-nicotine-stay-in-your-system.html
  14. https://healthfully.com/long-nicotine-stay-system-4675135.html
  15. https://www.authorityhealthmag.com/how-long-does-nicotine-stay-in-your-system/
  16. https://carekees.com/how-long-does-nicotine-stay-in-your-system/
  17. https://www.thehealthyapron.com/how-long-nicotine-stay-system
  18. https://healthcommkey.org/long-nicotine-stay-system-urine/
  19. https://www.leanhealthyandwise.com/how-long-does-nicotine-stay-in-your-system-testing-blood-urine-saliva/
  20. https://howshealth.com/how-long-does-nicotine-stay-in-your-system/
How long does Nicotine stay in your System ?
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Published on by under Addiction and Withdrawals.
Article was last reviewed on February 18th, 2018.


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