How long does Cigarette Nicotine stay in Your System?

If you are a smoker, you may wonder how long nicotine stays in your system. After all, this is the primary compound found in cigarettes. Its action inside you is also quite impressive, as it can reach your brain within seven seconds after you’ve inhaled the smoke, and it went through your lungs, liver and bloodstream. It’s highly addictive and makes it hard to quit for any smoker. So how long does it stay inside you? Let’s examine various scenarios.

Nicotine turns into Cotinine

Nicotine represents 0.6% to 3% of the total weight of the cigarette. It may seem small, but in reality the strength of this compound makes this small amount really effective inside you. When you inhale the smoke from your cigarette (or cigar), it enters immediately into your bloodstream and heads straight to your brain. That is why you get a soothing effect when you smoke; a sense of pleasure.

As soon as it is inside you, enzymes in your body will start breaking down the nicotine and turn it into cotinine. This compound is then sent to your kidneys, so that it can treat it and get rid of it. However, this process is not instantaneous. In fact, it may take up to three months for cotinine to entirely leave your body. It may even be longer, according to how many cigarettes you smoke per day.

How Long does Cotinine stay in Urine Sample?

Naturally, the amount of cotinine found in urine samples will vary according to how many cigarettes a person smokes in one day. However, there is an average of 12mg of nicotine inside one cigarette, of which 1 mg is absorbed into the bloodstream. Once inside the body, the way to calculate the nicotine/cotinine is in Nano gram per milliliter. A smoker will usually have a rate between 10ng/ml to 500ng/ml, depending on how much he smokes. If you are a light smoker, count four days before cotinine disappears from your urine. If you smoke regularly, it will be closer to three weeks before it goes away – once you stop smoking of course.

How Long does Cotinine stay in Your Blood?

In this case, nicotine and cotinine take various times to disappear from your system. Nicotine will go away from your bloodstream within a few days, but cotinine will remain inside it for about ten days. There are two different blood tests that can detect the presence of nicotine and cotinine in the blood. One is quantitative, while the other is qualitative. Such tests will also detect another compound ingested through cigarette smoke, which is called anabasine. However, tests for this compound are less efficient, since it can also be found in certain food such as broccoli and cabbage, as well as in various medications.

How Long does Cotinine stay in Your Saliva and Hair?

Traces of nicotine and cotinine will leave your saliva much faster than your hair follicles. In fact, the latter is the location where it lasts the longest, as it can take up to a year before it entirely goes away, where saliva will be free from it in a matter of four days or so. Although hair tests do exist, they are quite infrequent compared to urine or blood tests.

How to Determine the Amount of Nicotine and Cotinine in Your body?

Although you can find urine and saliva tests at the pharmacy, that will determine if there are traces of nicotine inside your body, they are not very useful, since they only confirm that their presence. Their reliability and accuracy are not recognized by doctors, who don’t suggest proceeding to such tests.

What Amount of Time does Nicotine and Cotinine remains inside You?

It highly varies from one person to another, but there are general guidelines which are determined by the two factors below:

A- How often you smoke

There are three types of smokers:

  1. Light Smokers. You are considered a light smoker if you smoke once a week, or so.
  2. Moderate Smokers. You are considered a moderate smoker if you smoke more than once a week but less than three times per week.
  3. Heavy Smokers. Any amount of time above three per week will place in you in the heavy smoker category.

B- Your lifestyle, genetic and the medication you take

Depending on certain factors, your body will take more or less time to metabolize the nicotine/cotinine inside you.

If you are young and healthy, your body will get rid of it quicker. Studies also show that Caucasian and Hispanic metabolize them quicker than an African or Asian. Women will also get rid of it more quickly and even more so if they take estrogen.

Then, there are factors determined by elements found inside your body. For example, liver enzymes will metabolize nicotine/cotinine differently from one person to another. Certain medications will also affect the process.

So how can you clean your body of nicotine? It’s quite simple: Quit smoking!

Lynda I.

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