Kicking the habit of smoking is usually easier said than done. It might take multiple attempts to succeed; however, the good thing is that now there are a variety of nicotine replacement therapies (NRTs) that make this ordeal much easier to face. At the moment, nicotine patches are the most popular forms of NRTs that can help one quit smoking. Nicotine patches were introduced back in 1992 and they were only available to use by prescription. Fortunately, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved its over-the-counter sale by 1996.
Continue reading to know more about NRTs.
How does a nicotine patch function?
Typically, a nicotine patch is like a small tan or a transparent bandage in a square shape. Its size varies across the brand and dosage levels. This patch should be applied to a fairly hairless part of the body, i.e., anywhere between the neck and waist. One should make sure that the part is sanitized and dry before the patch is applied to it. The patch has to be replaced daily and should be applied to a different area each time to avoid skin irritation. The nicotine patches are designed to be worn for 24 hours, but some people might remove it before sleeping as it could possibly trigger side-effects like insomnia or vivid dreams.
Using a nicotine patch helps to quit smoking by rendering a consistent but controlled dose of nicotine to the smoker through the day. It allows the smoker to deal with the unpleasant symptoms of nicotine withdrawal, enabling the individual to gradually overcome nicotine addiction.
These patches usually come in 3 dosage concentrations, i.e., 7mg, 14mg, and 21mg. However, the numbers stated can differ slightly across manufacturers. The 21mg patch is recommended for individuals who smoke more than 20 cigarettes a day. The user then slowly switches to lower doses of nicotine to maintain steady progress, until he or she hits the final phase of using no patch.
What are the side effects of using nicotine patches to quit smoking?
Usually, most smokers benefit from the use of nicotine patches. However, in certain circumstances, they could experience the following side-effects:
- Skin irritation, i.e., burning, itching, or a tingling sensation on site of application. The good part is this only happens at the initial stage and often goes away on its own.
- Digestive issues, such as diarrhea
- Sleep problems, including insomnia or vivid dreams
- Racing heart rate and dizziness
- Headaches, nausea, and vomiting
If one is dealing with side-effects like a racing heartbeat, dizziness, severe rash or swelling, or trouble breathing then the nicotine patch should be removed immediately. Likewise, the person should immediately notify their general practitioner regarding the same.