Many people have considered giving up smoking. But, it can be tough. Nicotine replacement therapy has been found to help many smokers in their attempts at quitting. Use of this method has been proven to be effective at helping people stop smoking by replacing the nicotine they crave with other chemicals.
What you need to know:
- Nicotine lozenges are similar to sore throat lozenges in that they are sucked on slowly like hard candy
- Inhalers and nasal sprays deliver nicotine more quickly, which can be useful when you have a sudden craving. These products should be used exactly as directed, no more than six times per hour.
- Nicotine patches are applied to the skin, usually on the upper arm, and deliver a steady supply of nicotine throughout the day.
Nicotine Replacement Therapy, or NRT, makes the process easier. There are different forms of NRT products, all designed as an alternative source of nicotine for the body to help reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms.
How does NRT Work?
Nicotine is the addictive component of tobacco that is added to cigarettes. If you try to quit nicotine after you have become addicted, you will experience withdrawal symptoms, just like any other addiction. Irritability, anxiety, difficulty sleeping, headaches, changes in bowel movements (for example, loose stool or constipation), and intense cravings for nicotine are all withdrawal symptoms. These can impair your ability to work, study, or perform routine tasks. The resulting frustration increases your likelihood of resuming smoking
NRT helps by providing nicotine to your body without the other harmful chemicals found in cigarettes. Tobacco is a carcinogen that, depending on the frequency and duration of smoking, predisposes one to cancer later in life. This allows you to get your nicotine fix without smoking tobacco, reducing withdrawal symptoms and cravings.
Types of NRT Products
NRT products come in various forms, including:
Depending on your preferences, nicotine addiction level, or as directed by a therapist or doctor, you can use one or more of these products at the same time. To alleviate intense cravings and withdrawal symptoms, the therapist may recommend combining a fast-acting NRT, such as a nasal spray, with a slow-acting NRT, such as gum.
How to Use NRT Products
To maximize the effectiveness of NRT products, use them exactly as directed. Nicotine gum, for example, should be chewed slowly until a peppery flavor is detected, then parked between the cheek and gums or under the tongue. When the peppery flavor fades, chew the gum again.
Nicotine lozenges are similar to sore throat lozenges in that they are sucked on slowly like hard candy.
Inhalers and nasal sprays deliver nicotine more quickly, which can be useful when you have a sudden craving. These products should be used exactly as directed, no more than six times per hour. Patients with other respiratory conditions, such as asthma or chronic cough, should avoid using this method.
Nicotine patches are placed on the skin, usually on the upper arm, and provide a consistent supply of nicotine throughout the day.
The key to successfully using NRT products is to find one that works for you and to use it as directed. Finding the right product or combination of products may require some trial and error, but once you do, you will be well on your way to quitting cigarettes for good.
Side effects of NRT
NRT products, like any other medication, can have side effects. Skin irritation from the patch, mouth soreness from the gum, nose or throat irritation from the nasal spray, palpitations or rapid heart rate, loose stool, and difficulty sleeping are the most common side effects.
Other side effects include headaches, dizziness, nausea, muscle ache and stiffness, and sleep disturbance. These side effects are not only uncommon, but also mild, and they disappear after a few uses. Stop using the product and seek medical attention immediately if you experience more severe side effects such as chest pain, dizziness, or difficulty breathing