I think you are aware of the fact that there are several ways in which nicotine can get into your system. Regardless of whether you vape, smoke cigarettes, chew nicotine gum, or even inhale secondhand smoke (this one is probably the most annoying case), your bloodstream will absorb this substance.
If you’re anything like me, you might also experience those outbreaks of worry and anxiety. I mean, we all tend to feel concerned about our health, right? So, it is natural if you start wondering, “How long does nicotine stay in my precious body?”
Here’s a short answer to your question:
The traces of nicotine can remain in your body for up to 3 months, depending on the amount of nicotine you’ve ingested.
But that’s only the tip of the iceberg.
What Is Nicotine and How Does It Influence Your Body?
In its pure form, nicotine is an oily, transparent fluid with a distinctly unpleasant smell. As an alkaloid, it isn’t just toxic for people but for animals and plants as well. If it’s so toxic, why do we like it so much?
Nicotine is easily absorbed by your system and immediately spreads across the body, stimulating that euphoria-like effect.
Nicotine is mainly found in tobacco products. It is an alkaloid, which means it’s a natural substance that has a wide range of effects on a human body. Nicotine mostly acts as a nervous system stimulant and interacts with other hormone types, causing changes to occur throughout the entire body
A limited dosage of this substance can temporarily improve your mood, memory, enhance brain activity, and help you deal with stress. This doesn’t sound that bad, I know. However, as soon as you inhale nicotine, it can be found in your blood, urine, and saliva, causing negative long-term effects.
How Is Nicotine Ingested by Your System?
This is the scientific side of me speaking, so bear with me. You see, nicotine is easily absorbed by most mucous membranes located in your body. This includes the membranes of your mouth, digestive system, lungs, etc.
It takes only ten seconds after inhalation for nicotine to be absorbed through the skin and mucosal linings
The amount of nicotine that is absorbed by your system depends on several factors. For example, people who don’t inhale the smoke into their lungs get only about 10% of nicotine, while those that do receive up to 90%. Furthermore, individuals who chew or sniff tobacco ingest even more of this substance, thus drastically increasing the damage that they cause to their health. And, as you’ve probably already guessed, nicotine stays in their system longer. Check out this guide to learn more about how to reduce the amount of nicotine you consume while vaping.
Now, other factors that determine how long nicotine stays in your body include:
- pH levels (the higher, the more nicotine is absorbed by your body);
- the total amount of smoke that contacts your lungs’ tissue;
- the kind of tobacco you’re using;
- the quality of the filters produced by the manufacturer.
But here’s the deal, though:
There’s a huge difference between how long nicotine stays in your system and how long it takes before the traces of this substance can no longer be detected in a test.
Nicotine stays in your bloodstream for about fourteen hours but can still be found in a blood test taken ten days after the last usage. Subsequently, nicotine in urine disappears after twenty-four hours but can be detected even after twenty days. This is because after nicotine is metabolized, it leaves behind cotinine, which is another alkaloid substance. It leaves a trace that can be recognized by most tests, and its origin won’t raise any doubts in the urinalysis lab.
Nicotine in Your Blood
First of all, let’s figure out how nicotine enters your bloodstream (again, the crazy science guy speaking in me).
As soon as you inhale smoke for the first time, nicotine immediately gets absorbed by your lungs and passes on to your bloodstream. Due to the active circulation, it rapidly spreads through your entire body, while simultaneously narrowing your vessels.
When you have a constant overabundance of nicotine in your bloodstream, your body doesn’t receive a sufficient amount of oxygen, which leads to blood clots creation. As a result, you may suffer from memory loss, heart and brain diseases, etc. Additionally, the adrenaline rush you get when you smoke raises the cholesterol level and can lead to other health problems
The amount of nicotine absorbed by your blood decreases in the first two hours after your last intake. Most of that amount is metabolized by your liver, kidneys, and lungs.
As I’ve mentioned above, nicotine stays in your blood for fourteen hours after the last cigarette or vape. Furthermore, your age and overall health condition can also influence the duration of how long this substance remains in your system.
Here’s the tricky part:
If you’re tested for cotinine instead of nicotine itself, the results can prove to be positive even after ten days since your last usage. The reason behind such precision is that modern technology can locate the tiniest traces of nicotine in your blood.
There’s also a set of factors that may cause a false positive test result. For instance, such an error may occur if you’re working in the metallurgy industry or eat a lot of cabbage, broccoli, almond nuts, or other similar foods.
How Long Does Nicotine Stay in Your Urine?
I’m sure you’re asking this question not because you are just wondering (but who knows, maybe you’re just an extremely curious person). This question is commonly asked by people who have to take a urine test. Ordinarily, such a need arises in the workplace, when the employer wants to estimate the cost of health insurance. While it may seem like a drastic measure to you, there’s really not much you can do about it except for accepting and dealing with it.
As I’ve mentioned in the previous paragraph, about 50% of the nicotine is metabolized by your body before you even know it.
But what happens to the rest?
Your body doesn’t assimilate the remaining nicotine, so it leaves the system with urine in the next ten to fifteen hours after your last smoke.
I don’t mean to upset or freak you out before the test, but even when the nicotine has exited your system, it can still be found in your test results in the form of cotinine. According to several studies, cotinine remains in your urine for up to forty-eight hours before it leaves it completely.
Ordinarily, the tests are designed to find cotinine, not nicotine. This practice exists because cotinine is more stable and lasts longer in your body
Now, if you want an exact, individual result and an answer to the “How long does nicotine stay in your system?” question, you can buy a strip test and use it at home. Yes, it’s that easy.
All you have to do is submerge the stick into a portion of your urine for several seconds and look at the result in five minutes. If you’ve ingested nicotine in the last thirty-six hours, the test result will be positive. The standard cutoff mark for an acceptable amount of nicotine is 200ng/ml.
However, it’s also important to note that the outcome of the test will only be accurate if you’re a regular tobacco user. Otherwise, the result may be disfigured. For example, in passive smokers, nicotine can be found even after fifteen to twenty days since the last ingestion.
What’s the bottom line?
Knowing how long nicotine stays in your system can help you prepare for the urinalysis. You’re aware now that it isn’t enough to wait until the substance itself leaves your body, as the test will still turn out positive due to the remains of cotinine in your organism. That’s why it’s recommended to ingest the last dose of nicotine three days before the test to be absolutely sure of the result.
How Long Does Nicotine Remain in Your Saliva?
The saliva test is widely considered to be the most accurate one and is the recommended course of action in most scenarios. And I know, spitting into a plastic or glass tube isn’t the most pleasant experience, but at least it rids you of the necessity to deal with urine and also provides the opportunity to see how much tobacco you’ve ingested.
Here’s what’s interesting, though:
In its pure form, nicotine doesn’t last long in saliva, as it’s quickly absorbed by mouth tissue and transitions to other organs. However, because nicotine is decomposed into cotinine, it can be found in your saliva for up to ten hours after the last intake. A detailed test will show traces of this substance even after three days, which makes it as efficient as urine analysis.
If you are curious about what your results would look like (or simply want to play doctor), you can take this test on your own. All you need to do is add your saliva sample to a strip provided in the test-kit and leave it there for twenty minutes. Afterward, you can judge the amount of nicotine based on the level indicated on the strip.
Fighting the Enemy: How Can You Force Nicotine to Get Out of Your System?
Now that you know for how long nicotine stays in your system, you probably want to speed up the process and get rid of that yuck. Regardless of whether you are looking for a way to prepare for the test, or want to improve your health, there are several methods that can aid you in this task.
Even though you can’t perform a miracle (wouldn’t it be nice to be omnipotent?) to make nicotine completely disappear in a matter of hours, here’s a list of recommendations that will help you get rid of this substance as soon as possible:
- Drink plenty of liquids.
You should drink about eight 8-ounce glasses of water every day for quick toxins removal. The logic here is simple – the more water you drink, the more nicotine will leave your body with urine.
Another way to increase the tone of your blood vessels is to consume fresh-pressed juice that will help you regulate the digestion process better. It also serves as an antioxidant and has high fiber content, which can help you metabolize nicotine more efficiently.
Vitamin C has been proven to be the most effective method of forcing nicotine out of your bloodstream. Fruits and vegetables aren’t only good for your health but they also make nicotine less appealing
- Consume dairy products.
Milk, yogurts, sour cream, and other types of dairy are great for getting rid of harmful substances in your body tissue and organs.
- Eat garlic, onions, and egg yolk.
These products serve to improve your bile production, which can help you get rid of toxins and nicotine. And I know, the combination of garlic, onions, and yolks doesn’t sound nice. However, there’s no need to be extreme here. Simply incorporate those components into your dishes, and you’ll be fine.
The inhalation of various essential oils will help you cleanse your lungs and restore proper breathing. Plus, they might calm you down (or at least make you feel like you’re at a spa). Another great method is visiting saunas, as steam also increases the rate at which your blood vessels heal and regenerate.
- Go for long walks.
Spending at least an hour a day on fresh air will prove to be extremely beneficial for your health. This way you’ll receive a lot of oxygen and phytoncides that will help you sanitize your lungs from nicotine. Small tip: if you have a dog, you’ll always have pleasant company during those walks.
You can try jogging, yoga, swimming, or even a simple morning exercise routine. You don’t have to spend hours on end in the gym, but you do have to keep your body moving. Working out will help you stay in shape as well as release nicotine and other toxins through sweat.
What Can Prevent You from Getting Rid of Nicotine
The first thing you have to do to rid your system of nicotine is to stop ingesting it. I know, easier said than done. However, all the pieces of advice that I’ve given will be useless if you keep supplying your body with this substance.
There’s also a number of other factors that may diminish your efforts. For instance:
- a sedentary lifestyle;
- constant alcohol consumption;
- lack of proper nutrition;
- deficiency of water in your system.
You know now that nicotine can remain in your body for hours (sometimes days) after being ingested. This nasty substance gets absorbed by your mouth tissue, lungs, and blood. Yuck. However, everything isn’t as bad as it sounds, as our inner organs metabolize half of the nicotine that enters your system in a matter of hours.
Plus, there are plenty of things you can do to help your body get rid of nicotine. Keep in mind that it might appear in the form of cotinine, so, it’s best to stay away from smoking and vaping days before your urine or blood test.