How Long Does Nicotine Stay In Your System?

There are thousands of substances that are taken into our bodies when we smoke, but nicotine is the unique representation of the tobacco products.  Nicotine is the potent psychoactive agent in the tobacco leaves. It is also the principal reason for the addictive quality of cigarettes. How long does nicotine stay in your system after smoking? How does your body react to nicotine during that time? These insights are crucial if you want to quit smoking for good.

The effects of nicotine on your body

Unlike many other psychotropic substances, nicotine is not entirely a stimulant or a depressant as it stands somewhere in between. The duration nicotine stays in your system, and its effects are influenced by various factors.

In a small dosage, nicotine causes stimulation and improves your state of mind. The effect of nicotine resembles a depressant as the dosage increases. Nicotine may dampen your neurological functions at extremely high doses.

Scientists calculated that there is 10-12 mg of nicotine in a cigarette. However, the body is only able to absorb 1 mg of the total when smoking, which is also the sufficient amount to initiate the stimulating effects within seconds. Once circulated in the blood stream, nicotine will activate the nicotinic acetylcholine receptors and promote the secretion of abundant neurotransmitters, significantly acetylcholine and adrenaline, etc.

These chemical messengers are responsible for the release of glucose from the liver and the muscles, which will enhance memory and cognitive activity. Also, nicotine amplifies the effect of pleasure from dopamine and other rewarding stimuli to the brain. Therefore, nicotine can improve the mood, decrease appetite, and alleviate depression. Users also thereby experience a sense of calmness and relaxation.

The excretion of nicotine

Excessive nicotine exposure up to 30 mg can lead to intoxication which involves uncontrollable vomiting, dizziness, and arrhythmia. Therefore, the understanding of nicotine excretion and how long nicotine stays in your system is extremely important.

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The breakdown of nicotine occurs in the liver with the aid of a particular enzyme. Cotinine is the final product of this degradative pathway. Nicotine and cotinine can be detected in your saliva after smoking, in the blood, the urine, and even in your hair. The lifetime of these substances depends on where they are found in the body.

nicotine in blood

1.      How long do nicotine and its metabolite stay in your blood?

Nicotine could circulate in your blood for 1-3 days. On the contrary, cotinine can last longer, roughly for 10-12 days. Therefore, medical tests to check whether you have been smoking work based on the presence of cotinine.

However, it is common that the misinterpretation of nicotine blood test may happen because of an organic compound called thiocyanate, which is rich in green vegetables like cabbage or broccoli.

2.    How long can cotinine be present the urine?

Cotinine is the biomarker of the nicotine urine test. If you do not smoke much, it could only be detected in 3-4 days after the last smoke. However, cotinine may accumulate in the urine and last for nearly three weeks in heavy smokers. Urinalysis is the simplest way to detect tobacco smoking.

nicotine urine test

3.    How long does nicotine stay in your saliva?

The saliva test is the most accurate test to detect the use of tobacco. Usually, nicotine and cotinine can exist for more than 12 hours, and it could take 3-4 days for the body to fully eliminate traces of nicotine from the saliva.

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4.    How long does nicotine stay in the hair?

As for the hair, nicotine and cotinine can still be present in your hair follicles 3 months after the last exposure. Therefore, the hair is the most sensitive test to nicotine, which can be used to detect tobacco exposure after you have ceased smoking for even a year.

However, the nicotine hair test is not common compared to other methods because of its unique purpose and its high price.

Influences on how long nicotine stays in the body

How long does nicotine stay in your system correctly? It is varied from person to person. Several factors might contribute to the metabolism rate of nicotine and its lifetime in your body.

1.    How much do you smoke?

For light users who smoke less than thrice per week, it usually takes 2-4 days to get rid of nicotine from your body.  On the contrary, for heavy smokers who smoke daily or have a habit of chain smoking, nicotine and its byproduct may be accumulated in their body for weeks and months.

2.    Other significant factors

Some characteristics of your body might have a major role in the excretion of nicotine:

  • Genetic makeup: A statistical study suggests that the Asian population has a slower rate of nicotine metabolism compared to other ethnic groups in the United States.
  • Sex: Women remove nicotine faster than men because estrogen, the female sex hormone, could facilitate the metabolism of nicotine.
  • Age: Senescence interferes in the body’s function, so the removal of nicotine is dampened as you age.
  • Functionality of the liver: Nicotine is degraded by the liver enzymes, so the liver is vital for the metabolism of nicotine
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Moreover, the excretion of nicotine is slowed down by the unhealthy lifestyle or by the side effects of certain drugs. For example, the calcium channel blockers used to treat hypertension.

How can we speed up the excretion of nicotine?

Here are the simplest ways to clean out nicotine from your body faster:

  • Fresh water: Drinking more water will facilitate the excretion of nicotine in through urine
  • Regular exercises: Intense activity will create heat, which enhances the metabolism rate of nicotine. Besides, nicotine could also be excreted through perspiration.
  • Consume healthy foods: The best choices of food are citrus fruit and vegetables like oranges, cabbage, and carrots. The rich amount of antioxidants and fiber contained in these foods will boost your body’s function.

In conclusion, how long nicotine does nicotine stay in your system is varied between individuals. Nonetheless, you should maintain the nicotine taken in at tolerable level. The high amount of nicotine may cause addiction, and in the worst case, nicotine poisoning.

If you manifest symptoms such as nausea, dizziness or diarrhea, it might indicate intoxication from nicotine. You should take a rest, stop smoking immediately and be free from tobacco smoke for the next few days. Also, you should try your best to eliminate nicotine from your body by drinking a lot of water.


1 thought on “How Long Does Nicotine Stay In Your System?”

  1. Well I have always known about these harmful factors of nicotine but some people in my family is just not getting that. Thanks for making people aware of these symptoms and problems. You are doing a great job.


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