Green Tobacco Sickness Symptoms

Green tobacco sickness has been reported in the medical literature among tobacco harvesters in Kentucky, Florida, Tennessee, North Carolina, India, Malaysia, and Japan. Prior to 1970, green tobacco sickness had not been described within the medical community, but was apparently well-known among tobacco farmers. Green tobacco sickness, which has also been called "green symptom" or "tobacco cropper's sickness," is a self-limiting occupational illness. The diseased patient presents with generalized weakness, nausea and vomiting, headache, diarrhea, pallor, dizziness, and prostration. It has also been associated with occasional fluctuations in blood pressure or heart rate. Generally, the symptoms mimic those associated with nicotine intoxication in novice smokers. These acute symptoms most frequently appear during working hours (within a few hours of exposure) and as a result may be confused with heat exhaustion but may begin in the evening, with almost no cases being reported the following day. While these symptoms can create great discomfort and require time away from work, green tobacco sickness has not been associated with any long-term sequelae or mortality. However, no studies have been done to determine if there are any long-term effects, such as cardiovascular or other diseases, resulting from frequent bouts of green tobacco sickness. Additionally, while the duration of symptoms is relatively short, only 12 to 24 hours, green tobacco sickness does recur frequently, especially when working conditions remain similar (50-58).

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