Nicotine is a powerful stimulant found in tobacco products, including cigarettes, cigars, and some vaporizers and e-cigarettes. It can have many effects on your body, including an increased heart rate and blood pressure, and a decreased appetite. For many individuals, it can be a very addictive drug and can hinder the ability to successfully quit the use of tobacco products. You may have experience with a substance containing nicotine, but don’t know much about what happens once it enters your system. You may even be wondering, “how long does nicotine stay in your body?”
How It Works
When you use a substance that contains nicotine, the drug goes directly into your bloodstream. From there, it travels to your brain where it causes your body to release adrenaline. This is why you may feel a rush of energy when you begin using the tobacco product. After a certain period of time, that rush declines, you feel a sense of withdrawal, and you are left wanting to feel that “buzz”. So, you pull out another cigarette and start the process over again. This cycle repeats itself and can lead to addiction. It is also why it can be so hard to quit.
The nicotine continues to change and travel even after it reaches your brain. Once it is in your bloodstream, it also goes into the lungs and liver where it becomes cotinine, “the primary metabolite of nicotine.” The liver then works to remove both toxins from the blood. Eventually, both nicotine and cotinine leave the body through the urine.
There has been no conclusive study determining the exact amount of time that nicotine and cotinine stay in your body. There are a lot of varying factors, including the amount of nicotine in the tobacco product, the amount of time it takes for your liver to metabolize the nicotine into cotinine, as well as your age, medical conditions, and body type. Nicotine has a half-life of only a few hours, while the cotinine half-life is about 16 hours. Therefore, in theory, the nicotine is gone from your system in 11 hours. However, everyone is different. From the time you stop using tobacco, nicotine will likely be completely gone within 24 hours. Cotinine takes between 2 and 6 days to leave your system. Even then, trace amounts of both nicotine and cotinine are still detectable for days or even months, and can be tested by a laboratory.
How It’s Tested
Nicotine and cotinine can both be tested in the blood, saliva, hair, and urine. Since cotinine has a longer half-life, many laboratories will test it instead of nicotine. However, it is still possible to test both. The number of days in which nicotine or cotinine are detectable depends upon the substance being tested. The table below lists the type of test, and the length of time that nicotine and cotinine are detectable after the user has stopped using a tobacco product.
|Blood||1-3 days||1-10 days|
|Saliva||Less than a day||1-4 days|
|Hair||Up to three months||Up to three months|
|Urine||3-4 days||3-4 days|
It should be noted that “passive smokers” can see positive nicotine or cotinine results in urine tests for up to 15 to 20 days, much longer than those individuals who stopped using tobacco products and then took the test. Hair tests are usually to determine long-term usage, as it can highlight the amount of nicotine used throughout a 90-day period.
How To Protect Yourself
There are many ways to wean yourself off nicotine and live a healthier lifestyle. If you don’t want to quit a tobacco product “cold turkey”, you can try a nicotine alternative. There are a multitude of nicotine replacement therapy products available on the market. For example, nicotine gum provides a steady supply of nicotine. This keeps your nicotine levels consistent so that you don’t feel cravings, but also don’t experience the rise and fall associated with using a tobacco product. On the other hand, the nicotine nasal spray delivers the drug quickly to the brain in a way that mimics the sensation felt during smoking. However, the spray does not have the same toxic chemicals that are found in most tobacco products and it therefore likely safer to use.
Aside from using nicotine replacement therapy products, make sure that you are living a cleaner lifestyle as well. Drink plenty of water and eat foods with antioxidants to help rid your body of nicotine and cotinine. You can also exercise regularly which not only helps to create a stronger sense of wellbeing, but also helps to metabolize any toxins still in your system.
Speak with your independent insurance agent about your change in lifestyle. By choosing to quit your tobacco habit, you may be eligible for a smoke free home insurance discount. It has been proven that homeowners who do not smoke are at a smaller risk for house fires. Therefore, it is less likely that you will file a claim for a costly fire in which much of your property was damaged. Your insurance company wants to reward you for your choice to stop smoking with a discount between five and ten percent. Living a smoke-free life may also reduce your rates for health insurance, long-term care insurance, critical illness insurance, and much more. Ask your independent agent how quitting tobacco can help lower your insurance premiums today.
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