Many people, knowing that smoking can lead to such dreaded diseases as lung cancer and heart disease, begin chewing nicotine gum in an effort to quit. And in many cases, these people are successful in giving up tobacco. Unfortunately, sometimes there is the issue of giving up one addiction for another, as up to 9% of nicotine gum users report still chewing more than six months after starting.
By contrast, makers of the name brand nicotine gum Nicorette, GlaxoKlineSmith, urge users to stop chewing after twelve weeks.
What is Nicotine Gum?
Nicotine gum is a form of smoking cessation aid, which means it is intended to help people stop smoking. It generally works by replacing the nicotine that smokers usually get through tobacco products. Users normally gradually reduce their nicotine dosage until they no longer have cravings for it, or at least until the most bothersome nicotine withdrawal symptoms subside or lessen in severity.
Addiction to Nicotine Gum
Although less than 10% of nicotine gum users report still using the product after six months according to WebMD, that is still a lot of people when you consider than up to 2 million people will try nicotine gum annually.
While there are few long-term studies regarding nicotine gum addiction, those which have been done have shown few ill effects. This is because most of the health problems associated with tobacco products are due to the burning of the tobacco, as well as the chemical additives put in cigarettes. With the gum, there’s no smoke to enter the lungs and no carcinogens to develop into cancer.
According to the Wall Street Journal, health officials are even backing off when it comes to warning consumers against long-term gum use. Although there are few studies showing its safety, it is still considered to be much safer than using tobacco products. Many doctors advise their patients to continue using the gum as long as it helps them avoid tobacco products.
Side Effects to Nicotine Gum
Just because there are few, if any, serious health consequences to using nicotine laced gum over the long haul, that doesn’t mean it is without side effects. Nicotine gum releases the nicotine much more slowly than cigarettes, and usually contains lower amounts of the substance, as well. Even so, those who are sensitive to nicotine may experience nausea, jitters, and other symptoms common to those who are sensitive to stimulants. Some have also reported experiencing withdrawal symptoms when discontinuing the gum, such as irritability, fatigue, and cravings.
Additionally, many people do report experiencing severe jaw pain from the nearly continuous chewing. This condition isn’t life threatening, but it may make eating and drinking painful.
The cost of gum can also be prohibitive to some people, especially those who chew several pieces a day.