How Long Does Nicotine Stay In Your System?

Many want to know, “How long period nicotine stay in your system?”

You may be concerned about the effects of nicotine on your body and want to get this chemical out of your system as fast as possible.

A variety of drug tests can precisely detect the quantity of nicotine in your blood, urine, saliva, and hair follicles.

Nicotine test is mandatory with health insurance companies, and employee screening for certain jobs.  Nicotine tests can also determine if someone is using nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) such as nicotine patches, gums, or lozenges.

When you chew or smoke tobacco, nicotine enters your bloodstream via the lungs or through the walls of blood vessels.

Even a nonsmoker can absorb nicotine into their body.

The liver gradually breaks down the nicotine in the bloodstream and turns it into cotinine.

Eventually, the kidney eliminates most of the cotinine substance processed by the liver through urine.

In this article, you will read about how long nicotine stays in your body and how long 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. In making cigarettes, a few more chemicals are added to it.

Nicotine is a naturally occurring liquid alkaloid that makes up about 5 percent (by weight) of the tobacco plant.

Its principal urinary metabolite is cotinine.

For people who use nicotine products, it first stimulates (in small doses), then depresses (in large doses) 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.

Nicotine is an excellent chemical that can help in the physiologic and pharmacologic investigation.

It is also widely used as an insecticide and fumigant, forming salts with most acids.

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.

Many people try nicotine replacement products or vaping as an alternative to smoking cigarettes.
If you are trying to kick the smoking habit, knowing how long and how much nicotine will remain in your system is worth knowing.

What Does Nicotine Do To Your Body?

After absorption, nicotine enters the bloodstream at pH 7.4. Traces of nicotine drugs are extensively distributed to tissues all over the body, with a steady-state volume of distribution averaging 2.6 L/Kg.

Based on human autopsy samples from smokers, the highest affinity for nicotine is in the liver, kidney, spleen, and lung, and the lowest is in adipose tissue.

Skeletal muscle also absorbs a large portion 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 compared to nonsmokers.

Every time you smoke a cigarette, you consume 1 mg of nicotine, which is enough to stimulate your nervous system.

In a small dosage, nicotine may boost mood, improve memory and cognition, enhance brain activity, relieve depression, and reduce appetite.

However, there is no safe level of nicotine exposure. Even in small dosages, regular nicotine consumption can add up over time.

Excess nicotine intake, whether through chain smoking or chewing tobacco regularly, will produce severe side effects on health.

There are several side effects of nicotine on health; most are common, while a few are life-threatening. The ill effects of nicotine are also different according to the use modality.

Using nicotine patches has side effects like skin rashes, red patches or swelling, and itchiness.

Tobacco chewing may cause side effects that damage the mouth, teeth, and jaws. Common side effects like nausea, vomiting, headaches, excess saliva, and salivation may happen after chewing tobacco.

Tobacco smoking may cause lung inflammation, watery eyes, coughing, sore throats, and lung infections.

Severe side effects of nicotine for heavy users of tobacco products include:

  • Uneven heartbeat
  • Chest pain
  • Seizures
  • Severe rash and swelling.

A combination of nicotine and other chemicals in tobacco can cause mouth or lung cancer in tobacco addicts.

How Long Does Nicotine Stay in Your System?

The liver metabolizes nicotine that goes into your body (bloodstream) within a few hours and turns into another chemical called cotinine.

Cotinine is a different chemical form with the same effects as the original nicotine.

To free your system of nicotine, both cotinine and nicotine remnants must be fully expelled from the body.

Cotinine stays in your system much longer than alcohol does.

After you have quit smoking or consuming tobacco, the cotinine substance can remain in your body for up to 3 months or more.

How long nicotine and its metabolites stay in your system depend on various factors, such as:

  • The volume of nicotine that got into your system,
  • Frequency and 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, nails, and hair. Nicotine gets expelled from each area at different rates and speeds.

Nicotine in the bloodstream may disappear within 48 hours, but traces of cotinine may be detected in the urine up to 20 days after quitting 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 nicotine from your system:

  • Age: The longer time required for older people to detoxify their bodies
  • Genes: According to some studies, Caucasian and Hispanic people may metabolize nicotine faster than Asian Americans and African-Americans.
  • Hormones: A woman with high estrogen hormone levels metabolizes nicotine faster.
  • Liver Health: People with healthy functioning liver enzymes have a faster metabolic rate.
  • Medications: Some medications you take can either make your metabolic rate faster or slower.

How Long Does Nicotine Stay In Your Blood?

Nicotine enters our system by consuming different forms of tobacco and is absorbed into the bloodstream within 10 to 30 seconds of using tobacco.

It depends on how fast your liver metabolizes the full amount of nicotine 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 for up to 3 days after quitting tobacco.

Within a couple of hours after the absorption of nicotine into the bloodstream, it is metabolized into cotinine. Then the cotinine is mixed with blood, and it stays there until 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

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 usually visible 1–3 days after the last use of a nicotine-containing product, such as smokeless tobacco, nicotine patches or gum, pipes, hookah, cannabis pills, or cigarettes.

Detecting the amount of nicotine in the blood varies depending on the amount used and the individual’s health and age.

However, blood tests may give false-positive results for nicotine in the blood. It usually happens if the person has consumed thiocyanate-containing foods like mustard, cabbage, almonds, and broccoli or taken medications such as amphetamines.

How Long Time 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 for nicotine can determine the level of nicotine present in the body for the last 24 hours. Traces of cotinine are detectable in urine only up to 3 days after quitting tobacco.

The amount of cotinine in your urine will vary depending on the amount and frequency of nicotine use.

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 waste if you use menthol cigarettes.

A urine sample test can detect cotinine in the urine. This process involves dipping a strip in the urine sample for 5 minutes. The result appears to be either positive or negative. The test’s basis is the accepted standard cutoff level of 200 ng/ml of nicotine.

How Long Does Nicotine Stay in Your Saliva and Hair?

Cotinine in the saliva lasts longer than the nicotine present in the blood. It is traceable in saliva for up to 4 days.

Salivary testing for detecting nicotine is accurate and preferred.

A saliva test can give a clear idea of the approximate amount of tobacco the person uses. It can detect 0 to 2,000 ng/ml of nicotine levels, much lower than the standard levels used in a urine test.

Nicotine content in hair follicles can stay for up to 3 months after the person last used tobacco. However, now more advanced hair follicle testing systems may detect nicotine up to a year after your last exposure to nicotine.

How To Get Nicotine Out Of Your System Fast?

A few effective ways and natural remedies can help remove nicotine quickly from your system.

Here are some of the most effective methods and remedies to clear nicotine from your body:

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 that contain natural antioxidants.

Antibiotics: Many types of antibiotics can help your body process nicotine faster.

Exercise: improves blood circulation and helps the body release toxins (like nicotine) through sweat.

Eat liver-friendly foods: Some foods, like egg yolks, garlic, and onions, increase the bile production in the liver, which helps in the detoxification of the blood and body.

Stop using tobacco: Completely quit tobacco use in every form; avoid being a passive smoker.

Final Thought 

Lastly, several factors depend on how long nicotine stays in your system.

The frequency and quantity of tobacco you take determines the period nicotine stays in your body.

When you smoke, traces of nicotine or cotinine accumulate in your blood, urine, saliva, hair, and nails. For up to one year, the traces of nicotine stay in the hair follicles. It may stay for up to 10 days in blood, saliva, and urine.

Abstinence from tobacco is the first and most important step to getting nicotine out of your system fast.

You can help speed up flushing nicotine or cotinine out of your body by drinking more water, exercising, and eating liver-friendly and antioxidant-rich foods.

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