Nicotine is a nitrogen-containing chemical, which is made by several types of plants, including the tobacco plant. If you’re of the age from 16 to 25 years old, there’s a pretty good chance you may have heard what a hookah is. But how many of you know about hookah and nicotine. Do you even know hookah smoke had nicotine in it? As most of us know hookah is miraculously thousand kilometers away from side effects that cigarette carries.

Nicotine Effects Of Hookah, Shisha And Pipe

Hookah, shisha, narghile or water pipe is a way to consume tobacco that originated in the middle east and certain parts of Asia, but has started to expand to other western nations as well, most notably UK, Australia, Canada and US where teens and adolescents are at a higher risk due to its appeal. The name comes from the device itself.

The hookah as it is commonly referred to as in the middle East, is primarily a large bowl with coals sitting on top of it, in which water and tobacco are mixed. A long tube is attached to it from which the person inhales the smoke.

Hookah come in a variety of shapes, sizes, colors and styles, but they are similar based on functionality. Also new forms of electronic hookah smoking, including steam stones and hookah pens, have been introduced. These devices are battery operated and function similarly to a real size hookah as the battery is used to power a motor that turns liquid filled with nicotine, flavors and other chemicals into a vapor that is then inhaled.

Although there is little information on these electronic hookahs, it is safe to assume that they cause the majority of symptoms and health risks associated with an actual hookah.

It is common practice to enjoy hookah in a large group where each individual shares the hookah using the same pipe. So now that we’ve gotten that out of way let’s put our focus on nicotine. When we hear the word hookah, we don’t normally associate it with hookah. In all likelihood even if you do not know about hookah you are quite certainly going to be aware of nicotine. Nicotine is the chemical found in cigarettes, and which gives it its addictive properties.

So now the controversy behind hookah and nicotine is that most hookah users unaware that hookah contains a lot of nicotine and just like cigarettes, hookah can lead to addiction as well because of the nicotine it contains.

Normally, the tobacco mixed in hookah is different from the one that is found in cigarettes. Firstly there is more tobacco in hookahs then found in most cigarettes, and secondly the tobacco in hookahs is mixed with artificial flavours such as strawberry, blueberry, mint and apple. The tobacco is burnt using coal, wood or charcoal, to create the smoke.

After we have gone over the fact that hookah does contain tobacco so it indeed contains nicotine, so the next question that arises is how much nicotine does hookah contain.

The Mental Effects of Nicotine Use and Hookah Addiction

Several studies have estimated that on average a 30 minute session of hookah can give you two to three times the nicotine contained in one cigarette.

According to a new research by scientists from University of Buffalo and Roswell Park Cancer Institute, many of the labels on hookah tobacco products are quite misleading. These labels provide information on the ingredients and chemical composition of hookah tobacco, and may misinform users.

The study has been published online in the journal Tobacco Regulatory Science. In this latest study scientists examined the nicotine content and pH levels of 140 different packages of 12 brands of foreign-made and U.S.-made hookah tobacco. The hookah tobacco was divided into three groups: herbal, washed or unwashed.

The scientists discovered that the nicotine levels in washed hookah tobacco products were 236 percent higher, overall, than what the label claimed. Levels in unwashed products were 71 percent lower than what was mentioned on the labels, whereas herbal products were found to have nicotine levels which were accurate with the product labeling.

Because of the difficulty faced by health authorities in properly regulating hookahs in most public places, such as bars and cafes, adolescents and young adults feel sort of liberty of smoking and sort of take things for advantage in these situations, which is why strict regulation is required.

A 2016 study found that hookah smoke can cause permanent changing in the lung cell lining. The team also discovered other interesting facts about an average hookah session. According to the researchers compared to one cigarette, one hookah session exposes the smoker to:

  • 3 times the phenol contained in cigarettes.
  • 2 to 4 times the nicotine volume,
  • 100 times more tar,
  • 7 to 11 times carbon monoxide volume,
  • 17 times formaldehyde volume,
  • 2 to 5 times the amount of high molecular weight carcinogenic polyaromatic hydrocarbons

Ronald Crystal, MD, and his team came to the conclusion of the study be measuring the effects of hookah smoking on participants using various clinical measures. The clinical data showed that, compared to nonsmokers, individuals who smoked hookah coughed more often and produced more sputum, which is a mix of saliva and mucus produced as a defensive to response to infection.

A 2004 study analyzed the nicotine content of popular tobacco brands in hookahs and compared it with the nicotine content of tobacco used in cigarettes. The scientists assessed nicotine content of 13 hookah tobacco brands (in the study they refer hookah as hubble bubble which is another slang for hookah) was carried out using gas chromatography, which is a technique used to assess compounds in vapor substances, over an 8-month period, which in this case was the period between 2002 and 2003.

There was a lot of differnece between the different hookah flavor brands. The wide difference in all brands was observed to have on average 8.32 mg/g nicotine per tobacco, which ranged between 1.8 to 41.3 mg/g of nicotine per tobacco. The scientists’ analysis found that flavoured tobacco had more nicotine content than unflavored tobacco used in hookahs.

One unflavored tobacco head had nicotine content which turned out to be equivalent of 70 normal cigarettes. The scientists added that when mixing other additives and other flavors while preparing the flavored tobacco helped lower the nicotine content of flavored tobacco, as it became a bit impure which helped lower its content.

Smoking one head of flavored tobacco which on average contained 33% of nicotine present in 20 cigarettes, which is the standard cigarette pack, and usually resulted in a 20% increase in suspended nicotine in blood, which is a still a lot given it’s the same head volume but is flavored.

The scientists concluded that hookah users are not safe from smoking hookah compared to cigarette smokers when comparing nicotine content and the risk of nicotine dependence. water’s lack of ability to trap significant amounts of carcinogens especially nicotine does not do hookah any favors.

Moreover, the health hazards which might result from the combustion of additives and tobacco flavors can exaggerate hookah smoking health hazards.

This was pretty significant since it was quite commonly mistaken that since smoke passes from the water it is somehow more healthier, but as the results showed it is completely not true, the smoke is still pretty toxic.

So in conclusion hookah contains much more nicotine than cigarettes therefore its quite addictive, even more so than cigarettes in a way. One more thing people should be aware of is that hookahs can cause nicotine addiction even if a person doesn’t smoke it, as a result of secondhand smoke.

Nicotine Effects: Secondhand Smoke Can Cause Nicotine Addiction

A study analyzed nicotine present in air molecules in four hookah bars assesed even though tobacco-based hookah is banned in these places in New York City.

The study covered more than just medical consequences of second hand smoking, it also called for better health reforms that deal with this issue directly and informed that people especially young adolescents need to be educated about this growing issue.

According to the study’s researchers, many of the hookah lounges did not provide a direct access to exits such as open windows or doors to properly exhaust the smoke. the research team found that concentrations of indoor airborne toxins differed, but the number of toxins relied directly upon the smoking population and number of hookahs in use.

The findings make perfect sense since more the people the greater the number of hookahs will be smoked.

Essentially researchers had discovered that the average levels of exhaled carbon monoxide rose significantly after the workers were done for the day, with some workers showing levels found in chain smokers.

Moreover, proteins that indicate inflammatory response (which is in the form of tumor necrosis, interleukin and interferon, factors) had been greatly increased in observed workers, when they were done for the day. these proteins are a natural reaction of an immune response, but can also indicate diseases such as arrhythmia and cancer when their levels are extremely elavated.

Whether it be cigarette smoking or hookah smoking, secondhand smoking causes higher risk of individuals picking up smoking, becoming dependent on nicotine and a their success at quitting  smoking becomes lower.

There are a couple of reasons for this. Firstly, secondhand smoke arises mostly due to being surrounded by family members, friends, parents or teachers who smoke, this not only exposes them to secondhand smoke but can also lead to individuals picking up smoking purely out of pressure.

Secondly, secondhand smoke can lead to nicotine dependence as it fires neural signals in the brain, making it more sensitive to nicotine which leads to nicotine craving, dependence, and making it harder to quit, which means in order to assist in setting up tobacco control interventions worldwide, it is key to first analyze the spread of tobacco use, its prevalence and secondhand smoke exposure in young adolescents.

So the question arises what damage does nicotine to a person’s health?

Effects Of Nicotine On A Person’s Health

While nicotine on itself is not a carcinogen, the tobacco it’s contained it most certainly contains a lot of carcinogens such as tar, toxic metals such as lead that cause tumor growth. Since nicotine increases a person’s likelihood to increase his hookah intake, they can severely risk their health. The effects of nicotine are usually rapid but can depend on a person’s physiology as well.

The basic principle by which nicotine acts is quite simple really.  Nicotine travels to the brain after being absorbed in the bloodstream through the alveoli. While it is in the brain, nicotine fires dopamine, chemicals that cause a warm and fuzzy sensation.

After that adrenaline is then released, which elevates both blood pressure and heart rate while causing a person’s breathing to become rapid and shallow. As a person starts to put more nicotine in his body, these effects can become more permanent, intense and cause more damage especially to one’s lungs, heart, brain and blood vessels,  increasing the risk for diseases such as stroke, certain lung diseases and cardiovascular diseases.

What’s even worse is that as a person starts to use more and more nicotine he develops an addiction to nicotine which can be physical in nature, meaning if he wants to quit, he will go through a phase of withdrawal, which includes sweating, deep breaths, fever, nausea and even constipation.

So the next question is why is nicotine addictive?

Nicotine Side Effects: Why Is Nicotine Addictive

Over the course of time, nicotine starts interfering with the brain’s chemicals known as neurotransmitters, which distorts the way certain brain cells function. When an individual halts his nicotine use, the changes still linger for some time till the brain can figure out what went wrong and retrogress back to its normal state.

These biochemical manipulations in the brain are what cause the withdrawal symptoms related to nicotine addiction. In fact, nicotine distorts brain’s chemistry in a manner other harder drugs such as heroin and cocaine do, which is why it comes as no shock that many tobacco users find it impossible to quit cold turkey.

However, once the body has gotten rid of nicotine, its basic functioning has been altered. It can anywhere between a month to two months for the brain to recalibrate itself to survive without nicotine as it almost has to learn from scratch in a way how to dopamine to stimulate the reward circuit.

It is in this healing phase that nicotine users who’ve given up may feel a strong urge for nicotine or feel angst, anxious, irritability or depression. But luckily these are not permanent feeling of craving or irritation. as the brain readjusts itself with time, these emotions and appetite go away naturally on their own. In order to fight through these emotions and cravings, one might need help of a psychiatrist, and may even need some medications to help you through.

So what are some of the effects of nicotine on an individual’s body?

What Are The Side Effects Of Nicotine?

Tobacco products on their own cause  so much damage that the harms of nicotine are often overlooked. Nicotine since is a chemical compound, and is easily passed through the bloodstream, has the ability to harm almost every vital organ in the human body.

Moreover, with continuous use, body’s biological processes can become adversely affected to great extent. These processes include immune system’s response, body’s natural healing time and the ability to dispose disintegrated cells, which helps in preventing tumor formation.

Nicotine affects an individual in an identical manner no matter what the source is, whether it is e-cigarettes, normal cigarettes, or even hookah. In order to fully explore the damage done by nicotine, it is essential to look at the major parts of the body that get affected by it.

Nicotine Effects On Brain

Nicotine interferes with the brain’s normal neurotransmitter activity, resulting in various chemical changes and ultimately leading to addiction. Other neurological problems caused by nicotine are sleep cycles getting disturbed, dizziness, light-headedness, nausea and tremors in various parts of the body especially the hands.

Nicotine Effects On Cardiovascular System

Nicotine elevates both heart rate and blood pressure due to the stimulated secretion of adrenaline. This means that body becomes less efficient in utilizing its energy resources, and over time the body has to expend more energy in supplying oxygen to cells that require it, preventing the body from being fully vitalized and rejuvenated.

Over the long term, its effects are much more consequential. the stress on the cardiovascular system especially the heart can increase the chances of getting a heart attack and can even lead to other diseases such as a stroke and or an aneurysm.

Nicotine Side Effects: Higher Risk Of Emphesyma

Smokers are at a higher risk of emphesyma because of the nicotine present in their lungs. This is due to the fact that nicotine interferes the natural respiration cycle, leading to shortness of breath. however, over a longer duration this can lead to gradual destruction of alveoli sacs of lungs, known as emphesyma, which hinders breathing and restrict the flow of oxygen to the body cells as that is the main role of alveoli; exchange of gases in lungs.

The disease can over time destroy the alveoli and limit the elasticity of the pulmonary airways. This results in patients experiencing shortness of breath and trouble breathing.

Nicotine Effects On Reproductive System

Nicotine is one of the most common causes of erectile dysfunction (impotence) for men under 40. nicotine has also been known to lower sperm count as it destroys sperm and affects testosterone levels. Studies have shown that smokers have 23% lower sperm rate than nonsmokers, on average.

Moreover second hand smoke is enough to cause fertility problems in both men and women. therefore even if u don’t smoke hookah but are in a gathering where your friends are smoking hookah or in a café where others are smoking, your fertility is most likely going to get affected.

In conclusion there is a strong and irrefutable link between hookah use and nicotine addiction, due to the simple fact of the tobacco contained in it. More reform is needed to fight off the menace of nicotine addiction through strict regulation of hookah products, and strict control over hookah advertisements.