Does Nicotine Dehydrate You?


Nicotine is a natural alkaloid obtained from the plant tobacco. Hence, all tobacco- containing products have nicotine in them

Nicotine is used recreationally and has addictive properties.People who smoke tobacco are addicted to it because of the chemical “Nicotine” contained in it.1

Nicotine can act as a stimulant and depressant in the brain. When Nicotine stimulates the brain it makes you alert, energetic and leaves you  in ‘high’ moods.2

What is dehydration?

Dehydration occurs when your body loses water in such a manner that the water lost affects the normal functioning of vital organs in the body.

There are several factors that can make you dehydrated including:

  • Excessive use of  medication like diuretics
  • Having Diabetes 
  • Been out in the sun for too long 
  • Vomiting 
  • Diarrhoea
  • Excessive sweating during exercise


Classical symptoms of dehydration include:

  • Dark coloured or amber-coloured urine
  • Dry and or pale skin
  • Thirst
  • Muscle cramps
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Constipation
  • Dry mouth
  • Weight loss

In children, other symptoms of dehydration include:

  • Sunken fontanel
  • Tearless cry
  • Reduction in the number of wet nappies per day

How can nicotine dehydrate you?

Ordinarily, nicotine will not cause you to become dehydrated. However, nicotine poisoning can lead to dehydration.The centre for disease control and prevention states that the fatal human dose of nicotine for a 70kg individual is 50-60 mg/kg assuming the individual  is exposed to about 30 - 40 mg/m3 for 30 minutes, and he has a breath rate of 50 litres per minute and absorption is 100% complete.

Vaping and dehydration 

Vaping is the process of inhaling vapour created by a device. These vaping devices convert liquids to vapour that is readily inhaled and exhaled by vapers. 

Examples of vaping devices include electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes, pen cigarettes). Vaping devices have become the most common form of tobacco and nicotine consumption.

The liquid contained in most vapour is made up of 4 main chemical compounds which include: Propylene glycol (PG) or a vegetable based glycol (VGB), nicotine, water and flavouring. Sometimes PG and VGB could be used together in equal proportions.

Other constituents of e-cigarettes include but are not limited to:

  • Acetaldehyde or formaldehyde are known carcinogens
  • Tetrahydrocannabinol
  • Heavy metals

Vaping itself does not cause dehydration but the chemical constituent of the e-cigarette.

Although much is unknown about the exact cause of dehydration amongst vapers, the common culprit  causing dehydration is PG or VGB.

Propylene glycol and vegetable based glycol are humectants. Humectants are agents that promote water retention, also known as hygroscopic agents.

Your body loses water during the process of vaping because the vapour clouds you exhale are produced by PG which has the potential of absorbing water.

People who vape have complained of thirst, dry mouth and choking after vaping. These symptoms are characteristics of dehydration.

Other nicotine side effects

Smoking and nicotine produces a wide array of effects in the body which  affect the normal functioning of organs in the body.

  • In the heart, nicotine causes an increase in heart rate and blood pressure.  Individuals who consume nicotine, have a higher chance  of developing coronary heart disease
  • Nicotine can also increase the risk of blood clotting
  • Nicotine consumers might experience breathing problems, bronchitis, emphysema, lung cancers etc.
  • Pregnant women who consume nicotine products are likely to have pre- eclampsia, babies with low birth weight, and neurodevelopmental problems2
  • Cancer in several organs in the body

Ways to prevent dehydration

To prevent dehydration when you vape you should ensure the following:

  • Always drink water before and after vaping
  • Avoid vaping if you are taking medications like diuretics
  • Minimise caffeine intake. Although caffeine will not cause dehydration, it has the ability to make you urinate more thus, increasing your chance of dehydration if you vape and consume caffeinated products together

How to stop smoking or vaping 

To stop smoking or vaping you should consider the following

  • Make a conscious effort to stop
  • Seek medical help and counselling groups
  • Removeall vaping devices
  • Stay away from individuals who vape
  • Be actively involved in activities like exercise (this takes your mind of vaping)
  • Buy products that help you fight the urge to vape or smoke (Such as a nicotine patch)


Nicotine is an addictive product found in tobacco and many vaping devices. These devices make vapour from substances pre filled in them. Though vaping looks trendy, appealing, classy and modernised, people fail to realise that vaping is as harmful as smoking cigarettes.

Vapers are prone to experiencing dehydration; a condition that causes extreme thirst with dry mouth.

In addition, there are other potentially harmful effects associated with smoking.

These effects include increased heart rate, blood pressure and the risk of having a heart attack. Cancers and respiratory diseases have also been linked to smoking and vaping.The safest preventive measure to avoid these effects is to quit smoking.Take deliberate steps to quit vaping by writing genuine reasons why you should and want to stop.If you notice any symptoms or health changes associated with the use of vaping products or devices, do not hesitate to consult your doctor immediately.


  1. Benowitz NL. Pharmacology of nicotine: addiction, smoking-induced disease, and therapeutics. Annu Rev Pharmacol Toxicol. 2009;49:57-71. doi:10.1146/annurev.pharmtox.48.113006.094742
  2. Benowitz NL. Pharmacology of Nicotine: Addiction, Smoking-Induced Disease, and Therapeutics. Annual Review of Pharmacology and Toxicology [Internet]. 2009 Feb;49(1):57–71. Available from:
  3. Wickström R. Effects of nicotine during pregnancy: human and experimental evidence. Curr Neuropharmacol. 2007;5(3):213-222. doi:10.2174/157015907781695955
  4. Wickstrom R. Effects of Nicotine During Pregnancy: Human and Experimental Evidence. Current Neuropharmacology [Internet]. 2007 Sep 1;5(3):213–22. Available from:
This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Abigail Akhigbemen

MSc, Pharmacology&Toxicology, University of Benin, Nigeria

"As a pharmacist in academics, I find fulfilment in teaching, researching and writing. I have a passion for and am inspired by the pursuit for solutions to pressing disease and factors that affects mental health and wellness.I have taught a wide range of health and drug-related topics to Medical, Pharmacy, Science laboratory, Physiotherapy and Medical laboratory science students for the past 7 years, designing and supervising their undergraduate thesis/project."

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