Nicotine replacement therapy involves the use of products that provide low doses of nicotine but do not contain the toxins found in smoke. The goal of therapy is to relieve cravings for nicotine and ease the symptoms when someone stops using cigarettes and smokeless tobacco.
In general, nicotine replacement therapy benefits moderate-to-heavy smokers (people who smoke more than 15 cigarettes a day) the most.
Facts about using nicotine replacement therapy:
TYPES OF NICOTINE REPLACEMENT THERAPY
Nicotine supplements come in several forms:
All of these work well if they are used properly. People are more likely to use the gum and patches correctly than other forms of nicotine supplements.
Nicotine Patch. Nicotine patches are applied and used in similar ways:
Nicotine Gum or Lozenge. Nicotine gum (Nicorette and others) or lozenges (Commit and others) are available over the counter, without a prescription. Some people prefer lozenges to the patch, because they can control the nicotine dosage.
Tips for using the gum:
Nicotine Inhaler. The nicotine inhaler looks like a plastic cigarette holder. Nicotine cartridges are inserted into the inhaler and "puffed" for about 20 minutes, up to 16 times a day. The nicotine inhaler requires a prescription in the United States.
Using a combination of the inhaler and patch may be particularly effective.
Nicotine Nasal Spray. The nasal spray satisfies immediate cravings by providing doses of nicotine rapidly.
SIDE EFFECTS AND RISKS
Any nicotine supplement product may cause side effects. Patients using very high doses are more likely to have symptoms. Reducing the dose can prevent these symptoms. Side effects include:
There has been some concern that the patch might be harmful for people with heart or circulatory disease, but studies are finding that it poses no danger for these individuals. However, unhealthy cholesterol levels (lower HDL levels) caused by smoking remain abnormal with the use of the nicotine patch.
Nicotine replacement may not be completely safe in pregnant women, although it has been used successfully in this group without harmful effects. There is an increase in the heart rates in unborn children of women who use the patch.
Keep all nicotine products away from children, especially small children. Nicotine is a poison. A parent should call a physician or a poison control center right away if a child has been exposed to a nicotine replacement product, even for a short time. Parents should watch for any symptoms, including stomach upset, irritability, headaches, a rash, or fatigue.
Smoking cessation - nicotine replacement; Tobacco - nicotine replacement therapy