Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT)
What is NRT?
NRT stands for Nicotine Replacement Therapy
Smokers become dependent on the nicotine in cigarettes because it increases the levels of certain chemicals, such as dopamine and norepinephrine, in their brains. When people stop smoking, the levels of those chemicals drop, and their bodies react by having nicotine withdrawal symptoms. NRT supplies your body with nicotine to help you cope with the effects of nicotine withdrawal when you are quitting smoking.
Nicotine replacement therapy works by delivering a dose of nicotine through a gum, skin patch, or lozenge. The nicotine gum, lozenge, and skin patch are available via prescription from practitioners.
NRT can affect medical conditions
If you have had a heart attack, stroke or severe angina in the last two weeks, are taking medication for a mental health condition, or weigh less than 45 kilos (7 stones), you may need to check with your doctor before using nicotine patches, gum or lozenges. Diabetics on insulin should talk to their doctor about quitting smoking.
Nicotine patches, gum and lozenges are very safe and serious side effects are uncommon. You can use as much nicotine replacement as you need to take away cravings.
Sometimes patches can cause a slight reddening and itching of the skin. This is less likely if you change the area you apply the patch to.
Gum or lozenges might give you a slightly irritated mouth and throat, and more saliva (spit) than usual. If you chew or suck the gum or lozenges too often you might swallow too much nicotine and this can cause wind, hiccups and indigestion.
If you experience any side effects, see your pharmacist.