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What Happens To Untreated Nicotine Dependence & When To Go To Doctor?

Nicotine dependency should be treated as early as possible. As the nicotine dependency increases, apart from the harmful effect on the body, there would be more difficulty in quitting smoking/nicotine intake. Nicotine affects various organs such as lungs, heart, brain, reproductive system, vascular system and also harm the fetus.

What Happens To Untreated Nicotine Dependence?

What Happens To Untreated Nicotine Dependence?

Nicotine dependence is a common problem experienced by the people who smoke. If affects the brain and catalyzes the release of adrenaline and dopamine. This result in the pleasurable effect that, in the long-term, gives rise to dependency. Untreated nicotine dependency affects the mental and physical health of the patient.

Smoking not only makes the person dependent on nicotine, but rather it may also exert a devastating impact on vital organs such as the heart, lungs, and brain. Untreated nicotine dependency may result in the following consequences:

Nicotine Withdrawal Syndrome: Nicotine withdrawal syndrome is one of the most critical hindrances in the path of quitting smoking. People smoke when they experience nicotine withdrawal syndrome. Symptoms of nicotine withdrawal create a powerful urge to smoke. Untreated nicotine dependence may lead to severe nicotine withdrawal tolerance.

Cardiovascular Impact: US witnesses smoking and secondhand smoking as the cause of death in one-third of patients suffering from coronary artery disease1. Nicotine increases heart rate and blood pressure. It interferes in the flow of blood because of its property of hardening the arteries. Untreated nicotine dependence increases the risk of atherosclerosis.

Effects On Brain: Nicotine may cause restriction of blood flow in the brain and increases the risk of stroke. It also results in dizziness and lightheadedness and also interferes in sleep cycle2. In untreated individuals, especially the adolescents, attention deficit disorder occurs which increases with increased dependency.

Fertility Problems: Nicotine negatively impacts the process of oogenesis and spermatogenesis and thus causes infertility. It may be difficult to revive fertility when there is irreversible damage due to untreated nicotine dependence.

Gastrointestinal Disorders: Untreated nicotine dependence may also affect the gastrointestinal system. Long term smoking results in diarrhea, indigestion, heartburn, nausea, and vomiting.

Effect On The Fetus: Women who have nicotine dependence does not able to quit smoking due to nicotine withdrawal symptoms. This causes harm to the fetus and affects its development. In women with untreated dependence, there would be an increased risk of infertility, obesity and respiratory disorders in the baby.

Effect On Respiratory System: Nicotine affects the respiratory system in two ways. It causes bronchoconstriction and apnea by direct action on the lungs and also though the central nervous system3. Untreated nicotine dependence increases the severity of complications.

When To Go To Doctor For Nicotine Dependence?

When To Go To Doctor For Nicotine Dependence?

Nicotine dependence affects mental, physical and social life. Smoking is considered both a psychological habit and addiction. Nicotine dependence may affect almost all the organs of the body, especially the vital organs. The respiratory system is affected both through the direct impact and also through the central nervous system. The patient should immediately consult the doctor if any of the symptoms are a cause of concern. If you are nicotine dependent, you must visit the doctor in case:

  • You experience shortness of breath and apnea.
  • You experience chest pain and increased heart rate.
  • You fell lightheadedness and dizziness.
  • Your focus and attention are taking a dip.
  • Nicotine dependency taking a toll on your social life.
  • You have a problem with getting pregnant.
  • You experience diarrhea, indigestion, peptic ulcer, nausea, and vomiting.
  • You experience constipation in case of non-availability of nicotine.
  • You experience severe nicotine withdrawal symptoms.
  • You experience poor sleep and also have nightmares.
  • You want to quit smoking and are ready to counter nicotine withdrawal symptoms.

The doctor may ask you various questions to identify the extent of your dependency on nicotine4.


Untreated nicotine dependence causes a variety of health problems. The patient should immediately consult a doctor in case the person experiences any symptoms that cause concern.


Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:January 16, 2024

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