Guide to nicotine gum with advantages, disadvantages, success rate and side effects.
What is nicotine gum?
Nicotine gum is used as a smoking cessation aid to help people stop smoking and to cope with the withdrawal symptoms and cravings.
It comes in the form of a chewing gum and is chewed in the same way, although there are specific directions on how to chew the gum and how many pieces should be chewed per day etc.
It is best to read the instructions on how to use the gum otherwise side effects could occur. This gum contains a nicotine compound that is slowly released into the mouth upon chewing. The nicotine is then absorbed into the bloodstream through the lining of the mouth.
How does nicotine gum work?
Whenever you feel the urge to smoke a cigarette, place a piece of nicotine gum into your mouth and begin to chew. Keep chewing until there is a strong taste of nicotine in your mouth or until you feel a tingling sensation in your mouth.
When either of these occur, stop chewing the gum and rest it at the side of your mouth until the nicotine taste has subsided or until the tingling has stopped, then begin chewing again.
This way, each piece of gum should last around 30 minutes. Smokers usually use between 10 -15 pieces of gum a day, one piece every 1 -2 hours.
Smokers of less than 25 cigarettes a day should use the 2 mg strength gum whilst heavy smokers (more than 25 cigarettes a day) should start by using the 4 mg strength gum.
It is advised not to eat or drink anything, especially coffee, fruit juice, wine or fizzy drinks, 15 minutes before using a piece of gum, as the effectiveness of the gum is reduced and it is recommended that the gum is chewed slowly to avoid the intake of too much nicotine and consequent side effects.
No more than 24 pieces of gum should be used a day and really, smokers wishing to use any form of NRT should consult with their doctor for professional advice on the usage of each treatment.
Smokers using the gum should stop smoking cigarettes completely and no more than one NRT should be used at one time.
After 12 weeks you should start to reduce the amount of gum used and you should not be using the gum any longer than 6 months.
What is the success rate?
Some studies have shown that using a nicotine gum can double your chances of stopping smoking. However, you will also have to use a certain amount of willpower, as chewing gum will not make you stop smoking in itself.
Is this method safe?
Using a nicotine gum is totally safe for most people. It is available on prescription or over the counter. Anyone under the age of 18 should consult their doctor before use, as should people with heart disease, diabetes, liver or kidney disease, an overactive thyroid, stomach ulcers or any allergies. Pregnant women or breastfeeding mothers should not use nicotine gum at all.
Are there any side effects?
Side effects may occur upon using a nicotine gum. Some common effects may include a tingling in the mouth when chewing, mouth ulcers, jaw ache or a headache however, these will subside as you continue to use the gum and should not last for too long.
Make sure that the gum is chewed slowly otherwise you may experience other side effects such as hiccups, coughing, constipation, heartburn, nausea, dizziness, insomnia, stomach pains or vomiting.
These effects can also be remedied by chewing the gum more slowly and resting the gum sufficiently.
There are also side effects caused by too much nicotine in the body, and if you experience any of these, you should go to your doctor immediately. These effects include cold sweats, fainting, a pounding heart and sudden confusion.
What are the advantages of using this method?
- This method is simple and uncomplicated.
- Many people do not like to smoke and chew gum at the same time.
- The gum is available in mint or citrus flavour for those who do not like the regular nicotine flavour.
- The gum does not cause any smoking-related diseases.
Are there any disadvantages?
- Some people do not like to chew gum in public.
- The taste of the gum may be unpleasant.
- It can be expensive.
- You may still be tempted to smoke.
- This method is unsuitable for people who wear dentures.