Nicotine… Found naturally in tobacco plants, is the chemical responsible for the addictive nature of cigarettes, cigars, and many e-cigarettes. Until recent years, nicotine poisoning was a relatively rare occurrence and tended to be linked to exposure to insecticides containing the chemical. Nicotine poisoning results from too much nicotine in the body. Eating cigarettes or consuming liquid nicotine is the most common method of poisoning in children. The instances of nicotine poisoning have risen steadily as alternative forms of consuming it gain popularity. Nicotine poisoning tends to occur in 2 stages. Within the first 15 to 60 minutes following exposure, symptoms are related to the stimulatory effects of nicotine and include, excess saliva in the mouth, feeling nauseous, loss of appetite, dehydration, headache, dizziness, anxiety and restlessness, & sweating. Following this stage, the body begins to wind down. Nicotine's depressor effects appear within a few hours. These include, low blood pressure, slow heart rate, shallow breathing, & fatigue.
Nicotine poisoning is essentially caused by overexposure to nicotine. This happens either through inhalation, ingestion, or absorption through the skin or eyes. According to research by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of calls to poison centers involving nicotine poisoning from these sources rose from 1 per month in September 2010 to 215 per month in February 2014. Children are most at risk of nicotine poisoning through eating cigarettes or nicotine-containing products. Adults who are unaccustomed to smoking and who try vaping are at greater risk of nicotine poisoning than adults who smoke regularly. Using a nicotine patch or chewing gum containing nicotine while smoking at the same time can also lead to nicotine overdose. Chewing or snorting tobacco tends to release more nicotine into the body than smoking. A form of nicotine poisoning, known as Green Tobacco Sickness (GTS), can occur in those who harvest tobacco or work in tobacco processing factories.
Nicotine overdose depends on factors such as body weight and the source of the nicotine. Researchers have frequently indicated that the lethal dose of nicotine for adults is 50 to 60 milligrams (mg), which prompted safety warnings stating that approximately five cigarettes or 10 milliliters (ml) of a nicotine-containing solution could be fatal. However, the mortality rate from nicotine poisoning is extremely low, and some research suggests that it takes 500-1000 mg of oral nicotine to kill an adult. Children are much more susceptible to the effects of nicotine, with consumption of a single cigarette shown to be enough to cause illness. Nicotine affects the body in a variety of ways. It is both a sedative and a stimulant that impacts the heart, hormones, and digestive system. Aside from the risk of nicotine poisoning, the primary risk associated with nicotine use is its addictive qualities. One study reports that consuming nicotine makes cocaine more addictive. Many people who quit nicotine will experience withdrawal symptoms such as, anxiety, cravings, depression, difficulty concentrating, & irritability. Nicotine is most harmful when taken in quantities larger than those recommended (leading to nicotine poisoning) and when consumed in cigarettes or other products that contain a variety of chemicals that are detrimental to health including cigars.
Nicotine poisoning will usually be treated in a hospital, and a ventilator may be used if the patient is having trouble breathing. The treatments administered will depend on the amount of nicotine ingested and the symptoms experienced. Activated charcoal may be used to bind with the nicotine in the stomach and take it out of the body. Other supportive treatments, including medications, are used to manage seizures, low blood pressure, and abnormal heart rates.
If someone is experiencing nicotine poisoning symptoms, it is important to seek emergency medical attention. Follow the directions of the medical personnel and do not force the person to vomit or give them any food or liquids. For nicotine that was absorbed through the skin, rinse the affected area immediately with water for 15 minutes. The most effective way to prevent nicotine poisoning is to stop using cigarettes. Other preventative measures include, protecting the skin, especially when using liquids containing nicotine, safely storing nicotine products away from children and pets, correctly disposing of nicotine products - including cigarette butts and empty nicotine cartridges, & People who wish to quit smoking or use of other nicotine products should consult their doctor for further information.
The outlook for those with nicotine poisoning depends on how much nicotine they have ingested and how quickly they seek treatment. With rapid medical treatment, most people make a full recovery without any long-term effects. So when it come to Nicotine, just be smart. Remember to always be safe, be careful, and think of others. Nicotine can be your worst enemy, but also, your best friend. Take care & Vape on!
Eric Michael Bowersox
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