Brand names of nicotine
- Nicoderm CQ
- Nicorette DS
- Nicorette Plus
- Nicotrol Inhaler
- Nicotrol NS
Nicotine is a stimulant that lifts mood and is used to reduce withdrawal symptoms like nicotine craving which occurs when someone quits smoking. It is also known as habitrol and is classified and used as a replacement therapy drug. The nicotine that a person is no longer getting through cigarettes is replaced with nicoderm.
Nicotine is effective in helping people to quit smoking as it replaces the nicotine that is found in cigarettes and also withdrawal symptoms are seen as less severe. A supervised program that encourages people to stop smoking combined with habitrol shows good results.
Things you need to tell your physician before taking nicotine
Before you begin taking nicotine your doctor or pharmacist should be made aware of any allergies you have especially from adhesive tape. Also you should let them know if you are allergic to nicotine.
Nicotine for medical use is not recommended in medical conditions like severe or worsening pain in the chest, a recent heart attack, irregular heartbeat or serious arrhythmias and if you have skin problems like eczema and contact dermatitis.
Before you begin with nicoderm you must consult your doctor or pharmacist and tell them your medical history especially if you are affected by any disease of the blood vessel like Raynaud’s disease or stroke, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, liver and kidney disease, if you have stomach or intestinal sores and peptic ulcers, some adrenal problems like pheochromocytoma, or if you have an active thyroid gland leading to hyperthyroidism.
If you have been detailed to undergo an MRI examination then before the test begins bring to the notice of the MRI testing personnel that you are using the nicotine patch as serious burns could occur from the aluminum in the patches during the MRI test. The patch should be removed before the test begins however consulting the doctor would lead to more specific instructions.
Exercising could result in high body temperatures and so nicotine could be absorbed in increased amounts through the heated skin. Your doctor could guide you better on how exercising affects this medication.
Exposing the skin under the patch to direct sources of heat must be avoided as more medication could be released into the body than required leading to side effects. While wearing the patch caution must be taken around heating pads, electric blankets, hot tubs, heated water beds, saunas and also avoid being in direct sunlight for long periods of time.
Smoking could harm the unborn baby and so try to quit smoking without taking recourse to wearing the nicotine patch. Discuss with your doctor the risks and benefits involved as the medication should be used only if really indicated while you are pregnant.
As nicotine from smoking and from the patch passes into breast milk it could harm a nursing child. Consult the doctor for specific instructions but it is best to avoid both the medication as well as cigarette smoking while you are breast feeding. Also smoking near an infant must be totally banned so as to prevent harmful nicotine effects.
Since the nicotine patch replaces nicotine in cigarettes it could help you to stop smoking. Nicotine which is present in tobacco is addictive so when you stop smoking withdrawal symptoms like nicotine craving, nervousness, headache, weight gain, irritability and difficulty in concentration might occur as the levels of nicotine fall once you stop smoking.
Only if you have made a commitment to quit smoking will you succeed as the smoking habit is difficult to overcome. For people who need to stop smoking, nicotine replacement is part of a total program which also includes counselling, behavioural change and support. To quit smoking is a favour you could do for yourself in order to improve health and to live longer as diseases of the lungs, cancer and heart disease could be held at bay.
How to use nicotine
Before you begin using the product it is best to read all the directions especially if you are buying it over-the-counter. The Patient Information Booklet, available with your pharmacist, must be read for prescribed medication each time you get a refill and before you begin using the medication. In case you have any doubts consult your doctor or pharmacist.
While wearing the patch and after it has been removed you should not smoke nor use other nicotine or tobacco related products. This precaution is necessary as the skin continues to absorb nicotine even several hours after the patch has been removed.
Each used patch must be folded into two so it sticks together and must be trashed in a place which is out of reach of children and pets.
When you need to use the patch peel off the protective strip on the patch, after removing it from the packet, and apply it to the skin immediately. Press it down firmly for some 10 to 20 seconds so it stays in place and ensure that the edges are firmly placed on the skin. The patch needs to be adhered to a clean dry and hairless area on the upper arm or trunk. Manufacture’s instructions could guide you about the best place to wear the patch on. If required the hair on the area could be clipped but the hair must not be shaved. The patch should be applied to different areas of the skin each time. There should be a gap of at least one week before you apply the patch to the same area again. Also the patch must not be applied to cut, bruised or red skin and should also not be used on skin to which make up, skin lotions or powder has been applied.
If a patch falls down do not use it but take a fresh one from the package. If an individual pouch carrying the patch is cut, torn or damaged in any way it must not be used. Neither should you use more than one patch at a time. One patch should not be used for more than 24 hours. After the patch has been applied wash your hands, without soap, in plain water.
The best dose is the one which reduces the urge to smoke and does not cause nicotine related side effects. The doctor’s instructions should be carefully followed if he has prescribed the medication. The dose is specified keeping individual needs, smoking history and medical condition in mind. Nicotine patches are available in various brands and the amount of nicotine and the duration of time the patch needs to be worn also varies according to the brand. It is best to consult the doctor about which brand to use. A twenty four hour patch is normally used when there is a craving for cigarettes on waking. In case you have vivid dreams or the medication does not allow you to have proper sleep you will need to wear the patch for 16 hours and only when awake.
A new patch must be used each day and should be applied at the same time each day and so remember to apply it on waking up. Over several weeks the strength of the patches will be reduced till you no longer need nicotine replacement. Unless directed otherwise by the doctor the patches should not be used for more than 8 to 10 weeks.
Nicotine patches could cause reactions if they have been used for too long or if the dose used has been high. Symptoms like craving for cigarettes, irritability, nervousness and headaches could occur if the medication is stopped. Gradual lowering of doses reduces withdrawal symptoms and so the doctor should be notified if withdrawal symptoms occur. If even after four weeks of medication you have not been able to stop smoking your doctor should be told. Many first time quitters are not successful initially when they try and so the doctor could advise you to stop the medication and begin again after a while and could be successful the second time round, as often happens.
How nicotine works
Nicotine, which could otherwise be taken in through tobacco use, is replaced with nicotine patches.
- With gum:
- injury to teeth or mouth dental work
- Less common
Herbal medicines like ephedra, kola or any similar products could enhance the nervous anxiety that smokers have when they have to quit smoking. Valerian and kava kava could ease anxiety and tensions from any such cause. In any case, combining herbal remedies without asking the doctor is not advisable.
Alcohol must be avoided as it could raise cardio vascular effects and tobacco smoking should be completely shunned and so also marijuana smoking. Though not yet determined, exposure to cold should be avoided as the vasospastic action of nicotine could increase. Heavy exercising and exertion could cause more intake of nicotine so patients with angina, coronary artery disease or hypertension should use this medication with more caution.
A soon as smoking has completely ceased the medication should gradually be reduced and then completely discontinued. If the medication is used as an inhaler or chewing gum then use should not extend beyond six months, the nasal spray can be used for 3 months and the transdermal use should not exceed 20 weeks.
Nicotine gum can be stored at room temperature but should be protected from light. Nicotine patches are stored at room temperature and must not be exposed to temperatures beyond 86°F or 30°C. They should be stored in the pouches and should be opened only when needed as once opened they lose strength.