Nicotine is an addictive substance that is found in the tobacco plant and is an active ingredient in chewing tobacco, cigarettes and cigars. Nicotine is also found in smoking-cessation products, including gum and wearable patches. Nicotine poisoning can occur when very large amounts of nicotine are orally ingested. Young children and pets are among the most common population to experience nicotine poisoning when they accidentally chew or eat products containing nicotine. Treatment for nicotine poisoning may include induced vomiting or stomach pumping. Recognizing the signs of a nicotine overdose can prevent potentially serious health complications.
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Changes in Vital Signs
Ingesting too much of a nicotine product can cause some alarming changes in both heart rate and blood pressure, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). A rapid heart rate that then becomes abnormally slow may be a sign of nicotine poisoning. Similarly, the blood pressure of someone who has accidentally overdosed on the substance may spike and subsequently drop below normal.
Diarrhea, nausea and vomiting may all be signs that a person has too much nicotine in his system. Stomach cramping may accompany other gastrointestinal symptoms. Induced vomiting is a treatment method for severe nicotine poisoning, buts should only be performed by medical professionals.
People who have nicotine poisoning may have a hard time breathing. Breathing difficulties may include episodes where breathing stops momentarily, according to the National Institutes of Health. Rapid breathing is also consistent with nicotine poisoning.
Depression, anxiety, restlessness, excitement and mental confusion may all occur as a result of too much nicotine in the body. Children and animals may seem hyperactive if they have ingested large amounts of tobacco. People exhibiting these and other signs of extreme nicotine involvement should be examined by a physician.
Oral Side Effects
Nicotine in large doses can cause oral side effects. Drooling is one of the more common signs associated with this form of poisoning. Children who are old enough to verbalize their thoughts may complain of a burning feeling in the mouth.
Muscle twitches and convulsions can be signs of nicotine poisoning. People who have overdosed on nicotine may also experience muscle weakness.