Nicotine is a poison that can lead to health problems in excessive amounts. Cancers, cardiovascular disorders and chronic bronchitis are just some of the long-term consequences of smoking. These usually develop very slowly, so smokers often do not notice the health consequences immediately.
The amount ingested during smoking is usually not high enough to cause life-threatening poisoning. But what happens when products containing nicotine are accidentally swallowed? What are the symptoms of nicotine poisoning and what is the risk?
In this article, we want to tell you more about nicotine poisoning and introduce you to a few alternatives to cigarettes.
Nicotine poisoning is often caused by ingesting cigarettes or roll-your-own tobacco. Other products such as cigars, snuff or chewing tobacco, nicotine gum or patches to quit can also lead to a so-called nicotine shock, but the risk is rather low.
What amount of nicotine is dangerous?
Research has not yet been able to provide a clear answer to the question of how much nicotine is fatal. It is generally assumed that 30 to 60 mg of nicotine can be fatal. On average, a cigarette contains about two milligrams of nicotine. So to ingest a lethal dose, more than 200 cigarettes would have to be ingested. For e-cigarettes, that means 8 ml of 6 mg/ml e-liquid would have to be consumed.
Whether the dose is lethal or not also depends on body weight and where the nicotine comes from. Therefore, extra care should be taken with children or pets to avoid ingestion of nicotine-containing products.
Nicotine poisoning from smoking alone is unusual because the body can process nicotine quickly. After just two hours, the level of nicotine in the blood is cut in half. So for a lethal dose, more than 200 cigarettes would have to be consumed at once.
What is the difference between acute and chronic nicotine poisoning?
In acute nicotine poisoning, the nicotine-containing product is swallowed. In this way, a particularly large amount of nicotine is absorbed at once.
Chronic nicotine intoxication, in comparison, progresses over many years and initially goes unnoticed. Chronic intoxication is often developed by heavy and long-term smokers. Symptoms of chronic nicotine intoxication include damage to the vascular and nervous systems and organs. To avoid chronic nicotine intoxication, there is only one way: stop smoking.
What are the symptoms of acute nicotine poisoning?
Nicotine poisoning proceeds in two phases. The first phase is characterized by a feeling of discomfort and nausea. In addition, blood pressure may rise and one may feel a racing heart. Symptoms may vary from person to person and depend on the amount taken. Other symptoms include confusion, panic states, increased salivation, and shortness of breath.
In the second phase, the body breaks down the nicotine and you begin to calm down. Blood pressure and heart rate go back down. In some cases, depression appears as a symptom, in addition, the affected person feels exhausted and breathing becomes shallow. In addition, a feeling of weakness sets in and diarrhea is also a common result.
What is nicotine shock?
Nicotine shock or nicotine flash can occur when there is a flooding of nicotine effects in the brain. This happens more often with e-cigarettes because they have a higher nicotine strength. Symptoms include nausea, sweating, tremors, fatigue, vomiting and intestinal cramps. You are more likely to experience nicotine shock than nicotine poisoning.
What to do in case of an overdose?
Even a mild overdose causes the body to send signals. If symptoms such as headache or nausea appear, you should definitely take a break and not ingest nicotine.
How dangerous is it to swallow snus?
Since snus does not involve a burning process, it is considered less dangerous than cigarettes. There is not much danger in accidentally swallowing snus, because the amounts of dangerous ingredients are lower than in cigarettes. To cause nicotine poisoning, several pouches would have to be swallowed in a short period of time.
Even if there is no great danger from snus, it should still not be swallowed, because it can also cause stomach upset. Snus is available with different levels of nicotine: Offroad X WDP, for example, has a high content of 45 mg/g. Thunder Lit Frosted WDP has a nicotine content of 22 mg/g. Edel CBD Mint even contains no nicotine at all and is a very good alternative to smoking.