Nicotine Lozenge Side Effects
To start, it's important to understand that using any nicotine replacement therapy, including lozenges, is much safer for you than smoking cigarettes. Remember that cigarettes contain thousands of toxic chemicals, while an NRT supplies only nicotine.
With that said, it's impossible to overemphasize the fact that the nicotine lozenge is a drug, and that it must be used with caution. It's a good idea to discuss the lozenges with your doctor before purchasing them. He or she can guide you in choosing the best strength product for your needs, and help monitor any problems throughout the quitting process. Moreover, if your physician prescribes the NRT, your health insurance may actually cover it, making it more affordable.
Most important, though, you must confer with your doctor if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or nursing; if you are under the age of eighteen; or if you have one of the following conditions:
- Cardiovascular disease, including angina pectoris (chest pain), arrhythmia, and recent heart attack
- High blood pressure
- Impaired circulation
- Kidney disease
- Liver disease
- Lung disease, such as emphysema
- Pheochromocytoma (a tumor of the adrenal gland)
- Recurrent nasal allergies
- Stomach ulcer
- Thyroid problems
One or more of the above conditions won't necessarily rule out use of nicotine lozenges. In the case of heart disease, for instance, although nicotine replacement therapy may not be the treatment of choice, your doctor may feel that the lozenges pose a lesser risk than that of continued smoking. In some cases, though, your physician may recommend a product that's a better match for your individual risk profile. People with phenylketonuria should be aware that many nicotine lozenges contain more than 3 milligrams of phenylalanine each. This substance is not found in other forms of NRT.
When discussing the possible use of an NRT with your doctor, be sure to mention all the medications you're currently taking, including prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications. Especially tell your doctor if you are taking one of the following:
- Acetaminophen (Tylenol and others)
- Diuretics (water pills)
- Imipramine (Tofranil, Janimine)
- High blood pressure medications
- Oxazepam (Serax)
- Pentazocine (Talwin, Talwin NX, Talacen)
- Propoxyphene (Darvon, Darvon-N, E-Lor, PC-CAP, Wygesic, and others)
- Propranolol (Inderal)
- Theophylline (Aerolate, Asmalix, Theo-Dur, and others)
Again, use of any of the above substances may not rule out the use of nicotine lozenges. But in some cases, your doctor may suggest a different quit-smoking technique.
Like all NRTs, nicotine lozenges can cause side effects. The side effects most often associated with lozenge use include the following:
- Abdominal pain
- Blurred vision
- Diarrhea or upset stomach
- Excess gas (flatulence)
- High blood pressure
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Sore throat
Some side effects, like heartburn and indigestion, are usually due to improper use of the nicotine lozenge. Practices such as chewing the lozenges, swallowing the lozenges whole, or using them one after another can all cause problems. When the lozenges are used properly, most symptoms occur only during the first few weeks. If symptoms persist, however, you should contact your physician to determine if it is safe for you to continue using the lozenges. Contact your physician immediately if you have any of the following problems, which may be signs of nicotine overdose.
- Abnormal heartbeat or rhythm
- Cold sweats
- Difficulty breathing
- Severe abdominal pain
The lists of potential side effects presented are not meant to scare you, but to make you aware of the possible consequences of nicotine use or overdose so that you will be alert to problems. Similarly, it's important to understand fully that you should not smoke when using nicotine lozenges or any other NRT. This can cause a serious nicotine overdose, which can result in death.
Finally, it should be noted that aside from being a drug, nicotine lozenges are sticky and can adhere to dental work. For that reason, they may be unsuitable for people with braces, dentures, bridges, or significant dental restoration.
The nicotine lozenge is a readily available over-the-counter aid that can help you quit smoking cold turkey by reducing or eliminating your withdrawal symptoms. Despite the lozenge's possible side effects, many people have already used this type of nicotine replacement therapy safely. In fact, less than 5 percent of the people who try nicotine lozenges have to stop use due to side effects. And as mentioned earlier, studies show that the lozenges can actually double your chance of successfully quitting the smoking habit.
Just keep in mind that like any aid, nicotine lozenges will be effective only if you pair them with motivation and willpower. No form of nicotine replacement therapy can quit smoking for you, but if you access your core values and cement your motivation before your Quit Date, the lozenges can certainly help you get through the quitting process.
Remember, too, that these lozenges are not the only quit-smoking aid available. For that reason, before settling on an aid, you may want to consider some of the other options available. Perhaps you would have more success if you used another type of NRT, such as the patch. Or perhaps you can maximize your success by using the lozenges along with another tool, such as hypnosis. To learn more, you can check out Nicotine Lozenge Side Effects.