E cigs and tobacco-replacement products are not always seen as good things in the world of health care. There are fears that exposure to nicotine is not a harmless thing, even in small doses or without accompanying toxins.
Getting rid of the tobacco and associated chemicals is important, but there are other risks involved in being a smoker or using a nicotine delivery system of any kind. The following article looks specifically at the dangers of nicotine and where you find it.
Nicotine: a Familiar Substance
Tobacco is the first product that springs to mind when asked where nicotine comes from. Tobacco plants are related to some toxic and some edible species and you might be surprised to know that tomatoes contain nicotine.
Since tomatoes are good for you and not thought of as addictive, you know there must be something different about tobacco. In particular, most people do not consume tomato leaves but they do chew or smoke tobacco leaves.
Nicotine is related to other stimulants like caffeine. While this might lead some people to dismiss any fears around nicotine as no more relevant than fears about caffeine addiction, anything which causes an addictive response in the brain or which stimulates the heart should be treated with caution.
Furthermore, few people drink as much coffee as they smoke cigarettes, but it could be argued that coffee drinkers suffer from some of the same problems as nicotine users. The same rules that govern consumption of coffee apply to everything, though: in moderation, a stimulant might be fine. Excessive use can cause serious problems.
A Look at What Goes on
Nicotine is absorbed through the skin, GI tract, or inhaled. Thus, it can get to your brain whether you smoke it, chew it, or wear a nicotine patch bought at the drug store.
Nicotine affects neurotransmitters, simulating activity performed by natural chemicals your body produces on its own. When the brain is stimulated by nicotine, this also causes the heart to race: maybe a little, perhaps a lot. You feel good, especially if you felt terrible before as a result of emotional or physical pain or stress.
Among the negatives of nicotine use is the way it affects pulse and blood pressure. In most people, the effects will do little more than cause a bit of excitement, high energy, and maybe breathlessness.
It could, however, become more than that: dizziness and nausea, for instance. Some people lose consciousness or suffer from heart problems the first time they are exposed to cigarettes. Seizures have been reported in some cases.
There is even the possibility of suffering from hormonal imbalance after extended exposure and possibly changes to the way a body uses insulin leading to Type 2 Diabetes.
It is rare to have an instant, life-threatening reaction to one cigarette. What is not rare is becoming hooked instantly.
After even the first or second exposure to nicotine, this drug can affect sleep, energy, moods, appetite, and more. You never know how sensitive you are to something until your first exposure, so there is no way of knowing whether you will be the kind of person whose body reacts severely to nicotine until you try it. There isn’t any good reason, however; just lots of good reasons to avoid it.
Now it’s clear why trying to quit smoking is so hard. Once hooked on a substance, the brain struggles to do without it and a body might not be able to make sufficient amounts naturally; at least not initially.
With time, chemical stability will be restored. In the meantime, someone fighting withdrawal symptoms will go through all of the low moods, pain, fatigue, and other sensations their fix was so good at counteracting but to a greater intensity.
If being anxious was hard to deal with before, without nicotine a person will feel nauseous with anxiety and desperate for a smoke. Many people choose to withdraw slowly, removing one cigarette a day for several weeks or weaning with nicotine gum or patches.
Really Extreme Reactions
There is always the risk that a child, animal, or even an adult will ingest nicotine. When you smoke, only a very small amount of nicotine is absorbed by your body.
When you ingest nicotine, you get the full whack. That is why there are strong warnings to keep nicotine away from children: even a little bit can kill a child.
Just think about this: nicotine is used as an insecticide on plants or to fumigate a house with a rodent problem. That is how deadly this stuff is. Nicotine goes straight for the nervous system.