Nicotine can be a dangerous substance. It’s terrible for your health and makes you addicted to cigarettes. But even though smoking is one of the most common addictions, people still don’t know much about nicotine. What are the dangers of nicotine? What are the benefits of quitting smoking? This article will explore this topic by examining how nicotine affects various areas of your body—including your brain, blood pressure, heart rate, weight gain, oral health, and depression levels.
Nicotine is a stimulant that can make you feel more alert and awake. However, nicotine can also cause anxiety, stress, and depression to get worse. It can also cause sleep problems like insomnia or restless leg syndrome. Nicotine affects how your brain works by blocking a specific chemical called acetylcholine. It is vital for learning and memory. When it’s blocked by nicotine in your brain, you may have trouble remembering things easily or learning new things quickly.
One of the significant health risks associated with smoking is a heightened risk of heart attack and stroke. Nicotine can significantly raise your blood pressure, leading to problems such as stroke and heart attack.
The body responds to increased blood pressure by releasing adrenaline into the bloodstream. Adrenaline is known as a fight-or-flight hormone that increases alertness and heart rate and decreases oxygen uptake by muscles. This process will harm your circulatory system if it continues for too long or occurs frequently enough. The increased adrenaline levels elevate your blood pressure even further than it would normally be without nicotine use (and without being under physical stress).
As mentioned, nicotine is a stimulant, making it increase your heart rate and blood pressure. Your body reacts to nicotine as if you’d just sprinted up a flight of stairs or drank several cups of coffee. Nicotine also increases the oxygen delivered to your muscles, temporarily strengthening them. This may sound like an advantage, but in fact, it’s dangerous. High adrenaline levels can cause you to experience heart problems such as arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats) or even sudden death.
Nicotine increases appetite and the desire to eat. It increases the levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin and insulin levels. These two processes together can lead to weight gain, which is one of the main reasons people quit smoking.
The body’s reaction to nicotine is similar to the response when you stop eating due to famine or famine-like conditions, such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa. You start craving food intensely, so much so that it feels physically painful not to eat. This happens because nicotine suppresses your metabolism and makes it harder for your body to use fat stores for energy—so yes, it may make sense why someone would gain weight after quitting smoking.
Nicotine is known to cause tooth decay. The nicotine in cigarettes, cigars, and smokeless tobacco products can lead to dental caries (cavities). Nicotine also increases the number of bacteria in your mouth that cause bad breath, gum disease, and cavities. As a result, smokers are more likely than non-smokers to develop gum disease.
The physical act of smoking can also damage teeth and increase the risk of tooth loss. Nicotine causes people who grind their teeth (bruxism) to grind even harder because it relaxes muscles in the jaw that control chewing and biting motions. This condition will not only accelerate wear on your teeth but also contribute to dry mouth, making it easy for bacteria to grow on your teeth surface, increasing your chances of developing cavities.
It’s also worth mentioning that if you’re a smoker and you visit an oral clinic, your dentist may need to take extra precautions and perform a thorough cleaning and treatment because of the increased possibility of gum disease or other oral health problems.
Nicotine use can also lead to depression, which is most likely caused by a combination of withdrawal symptoms, increased stress levels, and the chemical changes that occur in your brain when you smoke.
Your risk of depression increases if you have a family history of mental illness or if you’ve been depressed in the past. Depression is also more common in people who have been through stressful life events, such as losing a job or getting divorced. These factors might increase your risk for nicotine addiction and make it harder for you to quit smoking.
There is no doubt that smoking cigarettes can be harmful to your health. But what most people aren’t aware of is how nicotine harms the body and brain. Nicotine is a highly addictive drug that affects many areas of your health, making quitting difficult. However, that doesn’t make it impossible. With these harmful effects mentioned above, you should be more inclined to stop and quit as soon as possible.