Green tobacco sickness (GTS) is classified as a form of nicotine poisoning that can be acquired through planting, handling, or harvesting tobacco plants. Because of this, GTS is more prevalent in workers who handle tobacco daily.

Nicotine is a substance capable of penetrating the skin and entering the bloodstream. Hence, if your clothes are soaked with tobaccos that became wet from perspiration, dew, or rain, you can be at a heightened risk of acquiring this disease.


The symptoms include the following:

  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Pallor
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Chills
  • Increased salivation
  • Abnormal temperature
  • Headache
  • Weakness
  • Increased perspiration
  • Abnormal fluctuation in the heart rate or blood pressure

Symptoms may appear during or several hours after the working hours. Nevertheless, these symptoms usually goes away within a day, as long as a worker stops handling tobacco leaves. However, if symptoms for the green tobacco sickness persist for more than 24 hours, consult your physician immediately.


Green tobacco sickness is clinicaly diagnosed through assessing the symptoms, as well as looking at the patient’s history of handling tobacco leaves. A test for urinary or serum nicotine, which has a half-life of three to four hours, can be used to diagnose green tobacco sickness. However, in the case of people who do not use tobacco, cotinine, which is a nicotine metabolite and has a half-life of thirty-six hours, can be helpful in making the diagnosis.


The first line of treatment for green tobacco sickness is to stop handling tobacco for the meantime. Affected patients are also advised to shower and change their clothes, which could be the source of contamination.

Aside from that, resting and drinking enough fluids is highly recommended. Since the symptoms often goes away within 24 hours, this initial treatment for green tobacco sickness is usually sufficient.

However, for some extreme cases, the administration of the following may be required:

Furthermore, the following procedures can be done to decrease the chances of acquiring GTS:

  • Wearing socks, boots, and gloves that are resistant of chemicals
  • Using dimenhydrinate
  • Wearing water-resistant protective gears
  • Working in dry conditions

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