Nicotine Gum: A Complete Guide 2018-04-16T16:36:30+00:00

Nicotine Gum: A Complete Guide

Chewing gum is a fun pastime and distraction for many people, so researchers got the idea that it could work as a replacement for smoking. Many people chew gum when they are trying to quit smoking because it provides oral gratification similar to a smoking habit. In the 1980s, gum that contains nicotine was introduced and offered by prescription as a method to help people quit smoking.

nicotine gum

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.

Nicotine gum is a very hard gum that is packaged in individual foil packed containers. The gum contains either 2 or 4 mg of nicotine in each piece, which is approximately equal to the amount of nicotine in 1 to 2 cigarettes. Smokers who need to have their first cigarette within the first 30 minutes after waking up should start with the 4 mg dose of nicotine gum, while those who can wait 30 minutes or more after waking for a first cigarette can usually get by with the 2 mg dose.

The gum is chewed at least 15 minutes after eating or drinking. You chew the gum until it softens up and begins to get a peppery taste and tingling sensation. At that point, you are supposed to put the piece between your gums and cheek and leave it in place. When the gum starts to lose the tingling sensation, you can chew it again until that feeling comes back. You can repeat this cycle as many times as necessary for up to 30 minutes. The body can absorb the nicotine into the bloodstream after being held in place next to the cheek. Slightly less than the full amount of nicotine in each piece of gum is absorbed into the bloodstream.

Smokers can use nicotine gum as much as once an hour, up to a total of 24 pieces per day. In general, you should step down the dosage of nicotine gum by spacing out the intervals between pieces by an increasing number of hours over a period of several weeks. Nicotine gum is not considered safe for more than 12 weeks of use or by pregnant women.


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Prescription Medicine

nicotine gum package

Nicotine gum was initially introduced to the market as a prescription medication called Nicorette. This was the first pharmaceutical option to help with quitting smoking, and its development started as early as the late 1960s. The product was then available in some countries in 1978 and the U.S. shortly after. It was available by prescription only for many years, including in an eventual generic version, but then it was made available over the counter without a prescription.

Other nicotine replacement products that were similarly once available only by prescription but which are now available over the counter include nicotine lozenges (available in generic and under the brand name Commit) and nicotine inhalers.

Industry-funded studies showed that the use of nicotine replacement products such as nicotine gum could reduce the cravings for a cigarette for up to 24 hours, although some other independent studies showed that people needed additional support systems in addition to using nicotine replacement therapy to quit smoking successfully.

Nicotine Gum: Side Effects

Nicotine gum may be fun to chew, but it is still a medication that was once available only by prescription. As such, it can have many potential side effects. Fortunately, although you cannot eliminate the possibility of side effects, they can be minimized by careful use of the medication. Chewing nicotine gum too fast or “chain chewing” – having one piece immediately after another – can dramatically increase the risk of side effects. However, by avoiding these actions, you may not experience as many side effects.

Some of the most common side effects associated with nicotine gum include the following:

  • Mouth, jaw or tooth discomfort
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Diarrhea
  • Rapid or pounding heartbeat
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Rash
  • Blisters or sores in the mouth

Success Rates

The success rates for using nicotine gum is dependent on the study, which are mixed. However, according to The Chart, “The perception of the public using the product is that these are good forever – that these will result in you not smoking in three, five, 10 years. Well, they were never designed to do that. They were designed to treat withdrawal, which is a symptom that occurs from stopping to probably six months, and then it usually ends.”

The symptoms of nicotine withdrawal pose the greatest risk to success during the early stages of quitting smoking.

Long-Term Health Risks

Because nicotine gum and other nicotine replacement products are medications, they can have serious effects. The most serious risk from using nicotine replacement products is an accidental overdose or nicotine poisoning. When this happens, it most often does so because people are doubling up and using nicotine replacement medication while also continuing to smoke. Nicotine replacement products are intended only to be used alone and to provide a substitute for the addiction to nicotine. Symptoms of nicotine overdose or poisoning include respiratory distress, seizures, and even death. Children are also at risk of nicotine poisoning if they find nicotine gum, particularly because of its similarity to other non-toxic forms of gum.

Even normal use of nicotine gum per the package directions can cause some health risks. Long-term use of nicotine gum can cause muscle weakness in the throat and lead to chronic hiccups, a feeling like your throat is closing and irritation. Nicotine in any form can also lead to a greater risk of heart disease and may contribute to throat, mouth and esophageal cancers, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and stroke.

Women who are pregnant should not use nicotine gum because it may cause an increased risk of congenital disabilities, particularly if you were to use it within the first twelve weeks of pregnancy. Pregnant women should ask their doctors about safer methods to help quit smoking.

Nicotine gum can be an effective tool in your total arsenal of options to help you quit smoking. However, it is very important to follow the instructions about how to use these powerful medications properly to make sure you use it safely and appropriately.

Summing It Up

Nicotine gum seems great at first, you can get the nicotine without the terrible things involved with cigarettes. However, then your gums start to recede, your breath smells bad all the time, and you have very strange digestive issues. It is certainly a possibility if you plan to do the actual weaning off program, but if you just switch addictions than it could cause health problems in the future.

Some alternatives that we would certainly recommend are the Nicotine Patch and vapor cigarettes. These are the nicotine replacement therapy products with the least risk and the highest success rate. Good luck!

12 Comments

  1. Debra
    Debra December 16, 2017 at 5:36 am - Reply

    Are you saying that vapor cigarettes are a lesser risk than nicotine gum?

  2. Paul
    Paul January 5, 2018 at 7:25 am - Reply

    I’ve been on the Gum ( 4mg ) 10 peaces plus a day for over 6 years and cat get off the stuff. At times I feel like just giving up on life.

    • Smokefree
      Smokefree February 20, 2018 at 10:12 am - Reply

      @Paul – its better than smoking, and maybe drop to 2 mg to see if you notice the difference. If not – sick with two for a bit then wean off them – you can do it! Plus – please don’t give up on my life my friend. There are people that love and care about you whether they show you or not. I have learned this recently after feeling that low myself. – im so glad i survived! you will be too i promise!

    • Brian
      Brian March 1, 2018 at 7:24 pm - Reply

      Would probably be a good start if you spelled pieces correctly. Other then that just kill yourself.

      • Willow
        Willow May 18, 2018 at 11:21 pm - Reply

        *than

      • Missy uneek
        Missy uneek May 20, 2018 at 12:52 am - Reply

        What the what! Why did you even comment? Spelling is not the topic.

      • Missy uneek
        Missy uneek May 20, 2018 at 1:30 am - Reply

        What the what! Why did you even comment? Spelling is not the topic. (For previous comment)
        I use the lozenges and I was able to immediately completely stop smoking – about a pack a day. I recommend avoiding being around people smoking for at least a week if possible. If not, use that time to do something to avoid the smokers. Like take a bathroom break (even just to wash your hands). Make popcorn which munching on keeps your mouth busy.ust think of something to do to while they’re smoking. Ask people you know to cooperate as much as they can.
        Don’t let other smokers undermine your efforts. Some people will resent your stopping. Get rid of ashtrays and don’t carry a lighter.
        It sounds corny but put dollars in a jar equal to what you were spending. I was able to go horseback riding with 6 days of saving! Then I let it build up more and bought my son great shoes he wanted. The second month I went to a nice hotel with water park. Treating yourself and/or others using the money you saved will be great incentive.
        I’m at 10 months smoke free. My clothes and apartment don’t stink of smoke. I’m enjoying the treats from money saved, and I lost that feeling of being a criminal – meant with humor but you probably know what I mean. I feel proud of myself and my kids are proud of me too.
        There is no downside to quiting.It does get easier every day. Good luck.

      • Bob
        Bob May 20, 2018 at 8:29 pm - Reply

        Than*

  3. jeff
    jeff February 20, 2018 at 3:39 pm - Reply

    cool

  4. Diane
    Diane February 27, 2018 at 8:50 am - Reply

    Iv been on 2mg for round14 years lately it’s not helping and iv gone up to the 4 mg and going through 2 to 3 cards a day stress level very intense at present I would love to get off it but have increased amount using and strength need help

  5. TheJoker
    TheJoker March 28, 2018 at 12:12 pm - Reply

    It really helped quit smoking with 15days.

  6. Craig
    Craig May 19, 2018 at 11:47 am - Reply

    Hello I have been on both vapor and gum 4 MG’s I enjoy both my friend smokes so I say yes occasionally my neighbour said I could get nicotine poisoning please I need your help thank you

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