Nicotine Replacement Therapy- Nicotine Patches

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{mosgoole left} Smokers find it hard to quit the habit because they are?addicted to nicotine. They may also be accustomed to the habit of?smoking in certain situations, but it is the nicotine which causes?cravings for cigarettes. A popular method for quitting smoking is to get?nicotine from sources other than tobacco. These Nicotine Replacement?Therapies (NRTs) include the use of nicotine gum or nicotine patches.

?Both of these products release nicotine into the bloodstream.?This helps to reduce the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal which include?irritability, fatigue, headaches, insomnia, and the inability to?concentrate. They also help control the urge to smoke cigarettes.

{mosgoole right} A nicotine patch is applied to the skin where it releases a steady stream?of nicotine into the bloodstream throughout the day. This is different?from nicotine gum which provides doses of nicotine only when chewed.?Nicotine patches are slightly more convenient than gum, but do not?provide the oral distraction that some smokers need when overcoming the?smoking habit.

Patches are available in three different strengths. Heavy smokers are advised to start with the 21 mg patches, but moderate smokers could start with 14 mg?patches. These beginning strength patches are used for about six weeks and then?replaced with lower-strength patches for another two weeks. Heavy smokers can finish?off with the 7 mg patches for an additional two weeks.

Some patches are designed to be worn for 24 hours a day, while others are?only to be worn for 16 hours a day. Some people find they do not sleep?well when a patch is applied to their skin, or they may experience?unsettling vivid dreams. If this happens you would be advised to try the?16 hour patch.

As with any NRT therapy, it is important to stop smoking before beginning to?use nicotine patches. They should be applied to an area of skin which has?relatively little hair and is free from scratches or abrasions. Most people apply the patch to their upper arms, backs or thighs. To prevent skin irritation patches must be applied to a new area of skin every day, and each area should not be used more than once per week.

If the patch falls off during the day, for example when bathing or swimming,?it can be replaced. Used patches must be discarded so that they cannot be retrieved by animals or children.

Some people experience mild skin irritation and itching when using nicotine?patches. The skin may also turn red and become uncomfortable. If the?irritation is severe and cannot be relieved by simple washing with soap?and water, contact your doctor to discuss the situation. Perhaps the?patch you are using is too strong, or perhaps a patch from a different?manufacturer may alleviate your symptoms. It is also possible that you?may have to switch to another type of NRT such as nicotine gum or nasal?spray.

Nicotine replacement therapies have a relatively high rate?of success. It must be remembered, however, that addiction to nicotine?is only part of the smoking habit. Another big part of it is the?associations made between smoking and particular situations. Many former?smokers still feel the urge to light up when they are in a pub or at a?party, and it is these behavioural associations to tobacco that are?behind many lapses. It is important to replace the smoking habit with?other healthier habits.

Popular brand names of nicotine patches include Habitrol, NicoDerm CQ, and Nicotrol.