Many of you are keen to know ‘how long does nicotine stay in your system’.
You may be concerned about the nicotine effects on your body and want to get this chemical out of your system as fast as possible.
There are many diagnostics tests that can precisely detect the amount of nicotine in your blood, urine, saliva and hair follicles.
Whenever you chew or smoke tobacco, nicotine goes into your bloodstream via lungs or through the walls of blood vessels.
Even a passive smoker can take into his/her body some amount of nicotine.
The nicotine in the bloodstream is gradually broken down by the liver and turns it into cotinine.
Eventually, most of the cotinine substance processed by the liver is eliminated by the kidney through urine.
In this article, you are going to read about how much time nicotine stays in your body and for how long period it can be detected in your urine, blood, hair, and saliva. You can also read the remedial tips for getting nicotine out of your system fast.
What is Nicotine?
Tobacco contains over a hundred chemicals. A few more chemicals come into tobacco in the process of making cigarettes.
Its principal urinary metabolite is cotinine.
For people who use tobacco, it first stimulates (small doses), then depresses (large doses) at autonomic ganglia and myoneural junctions.
Nicotine’s molecular formula is C10 H14 N2.
It is a stimulant drug that makes some people addicted to tobacco smoking or chewing (3).
The most widely used biomarker of nicotine intake is cotinine, which is detectable in blood, urine, saliva, hair, or nails. Cotinine is specific to nicotine.
If you are trying to kick the habit of smoking, it is worth knowing how long that nicotine will remain in your system.
Effects Of Nicotine
After absorption, nicotine enters the bloodstream at pH 7.4. Traces of nicotine drug are distributed extensively to tissues all over the body with a steady-state volume of distribution averaging 2.6 L/Kg (8).
Based on human autopsy samples from smokers, the highest affinity for nicotine is in the liver, kidney, spleen, and lung and lowest in adipose tissue (9).
In skeletal muscle also absorb a large amount of nicotine and cotinine close to that of blood.
Nicotine binds to brain tissues with high affinity, for this reason, smokers have increased receptor binding capacity in comparison to the nonsmokers (10).
Every time you smoke a cigarette, you are consuming 1 mg nicotine which is enough to produce stimulating effects in your nerve system.
However, there is no safe level of nicotine. Regular consumption of nicotine even in small dosages can add up over time.
Excess intake of nicotine, through chain-smoking or chewing tobacco regularly is going to produce severe side effects on health.
There are several side effects of nicotine on health; most of them are common while a few of them are life-threatening.
Other Side Effects
The side effects of nicotine are also different according to the modality of use.
Using nicotine patches has side effects like skin rashes, red patches or swelling on skin and itchiness.
Tobacco smoking may cause lung inflammation, watery eyes, cough, sore throat, and lung infections.
Severe side effects of nicotine for heavy users of tobacco products are (11):
- Uneven heartbeat
- Chest pain
- Severe rash and swelling.
A combination of nicotine and other chemicals present in tobacco can cause mouth or lung cancer in tobacco addicts.
How Long Does Nicotine Stay In Your System?
Nicotine that goes into your body (bloodstream) is metabolized by the liver within a few hours and turns it into another chemical called cotinine (12).
Cotinine is a different form of chemical that has the same effects as the original nicotine.
To make your system free of nicotine both cotinine and nicotine remnants have to be fully expelled from the body.
Cotinine stays in your system much longer than alcohol does.
After you have quit smoking or consumption of tobacco, the cotinine substance can remain in your body for up to 3 months or more.
How long does nicotine stay in your system depend on various factors such as:
- The volume of nicotine got into your system,
- Frequency and time-period of tobacco usage,
- Diet, lifestyle habits, and health condition of the person.
Traces of cotinine can be detected in different areas of your body, particularly the blood, urine, saliva, nail, and hair. From each of these areas, nicotine gets expelled at different rates and speeds.
Nicotine in the bloodstream may disappear within 48 hours, but traces of cotinine may be detected in urine up to 20 days after you have quit using tobacco. Traces of cotinine can stay in your hair follicles for several months.
Here are some of the key factors that will determine the speed of metabolizing and flushing out of nicotine from your system:
- Age: the Longer time required for older people to detoxify the body.
- Genes: According to some studies Caucasian and Hispanic people may metabolize nicotine faster than Asian-Americans and African-Americans (13).
- Hormones: Woman with high estrogen hormone levels metabolizes the nicotine faster (14).
- Liver Health: People with the healthy functioning of liver enzymes have a faster metabolic rate.
- Medications: Some of the medications you are taking can either make metabolic rate faster or slower.
How Long Does Nicotine Stay In Your Blood?
Nicotine goes into our system, via consuming tobacco products in different forms, is absorbed into the bloodstream within 10 to 30 seconds of using tobacco.
Now the question arises, ‘how long does nicotine stay in your blood?’
It depends on how fast your liver metabolizes the full amount of nicotine present in the blood.
The amount of nicotine in the blood drastically declines after 3 to 12 hours as the liver metabolizes it. However, tiny traces of nicotine may stay in the blood up to 3 days after you quit using tobacco.
Within a couple of hours after the absorption of nicotine into the bloodstream, it is metabolized into cotinine. Then the cotinine is admixed with blood, and it stays in there till liver detoxification of the blood takes place.
Cotinine can remain present in the bloodstream for up to 10 days after the last exposure to nicotine.
Nicotine Blood Test
Just a few drops of blood are required to offer a comprehensive, quantified lab test for determining the presence of nicotine and its derivatives cotinine and anabasine in the blood.
Any good blood test can detect even the slightest traces of nicotine in the bloodstream.
In these blood tests, nicotine is visible usually 1 to 3 days after the last use of a nicotine-containing product, such as smokeless tobacco, nicotine patches or gum, Pipes, hooka, cannabis pills or cigarettes.
Detecting the amount of nicotine in the blood vary instead of the amount of nicotine use, and the individual’s health and age.
However, blood tests may give false-positive results of nicotine in the blood. It usually happens if the person has consumed thiocyanate containing foods like mustards, cabbage, almonds, and broccoli or taken medications such as amphetamines (14).
How Long Does Nicotine Stay In Your Urine?
The liver detoxifies the blood and body by expelling the cotinine substance through urine with the help of the kidney.
Urine tests can determine the exact amount of nicotine that was present in the body for the last 24 hours. Traces of cotinine are detectable in urine only up to 3 days after you quit the use of tobacco.
The presence of nicotine or cotinine can be detected even in the urine of passive smokers.
Cotinine may also take longer to be excreted with wastes if you are using menthol cigarettes.
A urine sample test can detect the cotinine if present in the urine. This process involves the dipping of a strip in the urine sample for 5 minutes. The result of it appears as either positive or negative. The accepted standard cutoff level of 200ng/ml of nicotine is the test’s basis.
How Long Does Nicotine Stay In Your Saliva And Hair?
Cotinine in saliva lasts longer than the nicotine present in the blood. It is traceable in saliva for up to 4 days.
Saliva testing for detecting nicotine is accurate and most preferred.
A saliva test can give a clear idea of the approximate amount of tobacco used by the person. It can detect levels 0 to 2,000ng/ml of nicotine, which is much lower than the standard levels used in a urine test.
Nicotine content in hair follicles can stay up to 3 months after the person last used tobacco. However, now there are more advanced hair follicle testing systems that may detect nicotine up to a year after your last exposure to nicotine.
How To Get Nicotine Out Of Your System Fast?
There are few effective ways and natural remedies that can help fast removal of nicotine from your system.
Here are some of the effective methods and remedies for cleansing your system of nicotine:
Drinking A Lot Of Water: It is possible to speed up the process of flushing nicotine out of your system through urine by drinking a lot of water.
Antioxidants: Have foods and drinks which contain natural antioxidants.
Exercise: It improves blood circulation and helps the body to release toxins (nicotine) through sweat.
Eat Liver Friendly Foods: Some of the foods like egg yolks, garlic, and onion increase the bile production in the liver that helps in the detoxification of blood and body.
Abstinence From Tobacco: Completely quit the use of tobacco in every form; avoid being a passive smoker.
The Bottom Line
Lastly, ‘how long does nicotine stay in your system’ depends upon several factors.
The frequency and quantity of tobacco taken by you determine the period nicotine stays in your body.
When you smoke the traces of nicotine or cotinine accumulates in your hair, blood, urine, saliva, hair, and nail. Up to one year, the traces of nicotine stay in the hair follicles. In blood, saliva, and urine it may stay up to 10 days.
Abstinence from tobacco is the first and most important step to get nicotine out of your system fast.
You can help speed up the process of flushing nicotine or cotinine out of your body by drinking more water, exercising, eating liver-friendly and antioxidant-rich foods.
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