Karen Schroeder Kassel, MS, RD, MEd
Related Media: Smoking Cessation - Products that May Help You
Nicotine replacement products are used to help people
stop smoking. These products work best as part of a program that also includes education, counseling, and/or psychological support.
These products provide
without the cigarette and help to wean your body off of nicotine. The typical effects of withdrawal are reduced as your body adjusts to not smoking. The products provide you with progressively lower doses of nicotine until you stop using them.
Sometimes these products are used in combination, like the patch along with the lozenges, which may help some people stay smoke-free.
Smoking and using nicotine replacement products can be dangerous because nicotine can build up to toxic levels. Since your goal is to quit smoking entirely, you should not smoke while using a nicotine replacement product. If you still have the urge to smoke, you may need a new strategy to quit.
One study showed that the use of a nicotine replacement product before the actual quit day could be beneficial. Talk to your doctor to find out if this strategy is a good approach for you.
Patches, lozenges, and gums can be purchased over-the-counter, but the nasal spray and inhaler require a prescription. Your doctor will help you determine the appropriate dosage. Also, your doctor can prescribe additional smoking cessation aids and can refer you to a counselor, support group, or other services that may help you quit smoking. People who combine several quitting strategies often have the most success.
After quitting smoking, the goal is to end your use of the nicotine replacement products as well. Here are guidelines for how long you should use these products:
If you are pregnant, planning on becoming pregnant, or breastfeeding, talk to your doctor to select a safe method to quit smoking. Ask if nicotine replacement products are a good option for you.
Children can be seriously harmed by any amount of nicotine. Keep these products, including used patches, away from children.
Nicotine replacement products are believed to be safe for adolescents and older adults. People with dentures, though, should avoid using nicotine gum because it could cause damage.
Tell your doctor about all the medications you take. Some should not be taken when you are quitting smoking with nicotine replacement products, while others may require a different dosage level.
The presence of other conditions may affect the use of nicotine replacement products. Tell your doctor if you have any other medical problems, such as:
There are side effects associated with taking nicotine replacement products. The side effects you may experience will depend on the type of product you choose. For example, rash has been associated with using the patch while nasal irritation has been associated with using the nasal spray.
If you experience side effects, talk to your doctor. A different product may be recommended.
It is possible to overdose on nicotine when you use nicotine replacement products. Some symptoms of an overdose include:
Your chance of long-term success depends a great deal on your motivation and commitment to quitting, regardless of which therapy you choose.
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Last reviewed March 2013 by Brian Randall, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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