Nicotine is one of many substances found in cigars, cigarette butts, chewing tobacco and nicotine gum and patches. While children probably would not try to light up a cigarette they found, it is only natural that they are curious and that any interesting objects are placed in their mouths.
But it is important to note that nicotine is a poison, and symptoms of nicotine poisoning have been seen in children who have chewed a very small amount – as little as one-half of a piece of nicotine gum. Just one cigarette or little more than one pinch of snuff can be harmful to children if swallowed. The smaller the child, the greater the danger.
Symptoms of nicotine poisoning usually begin within 30 to 90 minutes of ingestion, or sooner if the nicotine is in liquid form. Symptoms may include:
- Nausea or vomiting
- Stomach pain
- Increased drooling
- General sluggishness
There may also be an abnormal blood pressure or heartbeat, slowed or interrupted breathing, seizures and even coma.
If you suspect nicotine poisoning, do not wait for symptoms to appear. Do not make the child throw up or vomit. Do not give the child anything to eat or drink. Call 911 immediately.