The Pros and Cons of Nicotine Lozenges

Is the Nicotine Lozenge an Effective Quit Aid?

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What the Nicotine Lozenge is and How it Works

The nicotine lozenge is a nicotine replacement therapy ( NRT ) that comes in the form of a small, candy-like tablet.

When a nicotine lozenge is placed in the mouth and allowed to dissolve over the course of 20 to 30 minutes, nicotine is absorbed into the bloodstream, relieving short-term cravings to smoke.

Nicotine lozenges are sugar-free and come in cinnamon, fruit and mint flavors.

Because acidic foods and beverages can inhibit the absorption of the nicotine through the lining of the mouth, the manufacturer recommends waiting 15 minutes after eating before using a nicotine lozenge.

Do not smoke while using nicotine lozenges.

Nicotine Lozenge Brands and Strengths

The nicotine lozenge is an over-the-counter medication -- a doctor's prescription is not needed.

Nicotine Lozenge Brand Names:

Brand names associated with the nicotine lozenge are Commit, Nicorette and Nicorette Mini Lozenge. All of these brands are made by GlaxoSmithKline.

Nicotine Lozenge Strengths:

  • The Nicorette/Commit lozenge is available in two strengths, 2mg and 4mg.
  • The Nicorette mini lozenge is also available in 2mg and 4mg strengths, but is smaller in size and dissolves up to 3 times faster than regular Nicorette lozenges.

How Long Do I Use Nicotine Lozenges?

Choose the correct lozenge strength by looking at when your first cigarette of the day is smoked:

  • 4mg nicotine lozenges if first cigarette is smoked within 30 minutes of waking
  • 2mg nicotine lozenges if first cigarette is lit 30 minutes or more after waking

Nicotine lozenges are used as follows:

Weeks 1 - 6: Use one lozenge every 1 to 2 hours.

Weeks 7 - 9: Use one lozenge every 2 - 4 hours.

Weeks 10 - 12: Use one lozenge every 4 - 8 hours.

Do not use more than 5 lozenges in 6 hours or 20 lozenges in a 24 hour period. Quit using nicotine lozenges at the end of 12 weeks. Consult your doctor if you have trouble stopping.

Common Side Effects of Nicotine Lozenges

Side effects that are commonly associated with nicotine lozenge therapy include:

  • sore throat
  • heartburn
  • nausea/indigestion
  • hiccups

Side Effects That are Cause for Concern

If you experience any of the following symptoms, contact your doctor immediately:

  • irregular heartbeat or heart palpitations
  • severe throat irritation
  • mouth problems
  • symptoms of nicotine overdose (see below)

Special Precautions to Consider

Also speak to a health care professional before choosing nicotine lozenges if:

  • You are pregnant. Smoking is harmful to the fetus so you should try to quit before you get pregnant, if possible. If you are not able to, it's important to work closely with your doctor to quit smoking during pregnancy.
  • You are using prescription quit aids such as Chantix or Zyban or medications for depression or asthma. Dosages may need to be adjusted once you stop smoking.  Smokers metabolize some medications more quickly than non-smokers, so be sure to let your doctor know about all medicines you're taking, including vitamins and supplements.

Nicotine is poisonous, and lozenges may contain enough nicotine to harm children or pets. Store in a safe place and contact Poison Control services in your area in case of an overdose.

Symptoms of Nicotine Overdose

Do not smoke or use any other NRT while using nicotine lozenges as you run the risk of a nicotine overdose.

Signs of a nicotine overdose may include:

  • dizziness
  • upset stomach
  • bad headaches
  • vomiting
  • cold sweats
  • drooling
  • confusion
  • blurred vision
  • hearing problems
  • weakness or fainting

If you suspect you've had an overdose of nicotine, stop using the nicotine lozenge and call your doctor immediately.

What are the Pros and Cons of Nicotine Lozenge Therapy?

Pros:

Nicotine lozenges offer ex-smokers quick relief from cravings to smoke that are part of nicotine withdrawal.

Cons:

Nicotine lozenges are used on an as-needed basis and are similar to candy, both in taste and form. Because of this, the potential to abuse this quit aid is significant.

Please remember that the nicotine lozenge is a serious medication that must be used exactly as indicated. If you choose to use nicotine lozenges, carefully wean yourself off of them in the amount of time suggested.

A Word From Verywell:

The nicotine lozenge can help you quit smoking, but keep in mind that it is a quit aid, not a miracle worker. The magic for success with smoking cessation lies within you, not a product.

Work on developing your resolve to quit smoking one simple day at a time and be patient.

Adding some online support to your quit program will improve the chance of long-term success with smoking cessation.

The beauty of online help is that it is available to you at all hours of the day and night because people visit from all over the world.  Stop in at the forum linked above and do some browsing.  You'll find that your resolve to quit is bolstered by what you read.

Time, determination and support will help you win this race. Believe that, believe in yourself, and be willing to do the work it takes to quit for as long as it takes. You'll find that you can quit smoking, just as others have.

Sources:

GlaxoSmithKline. Nicotine Lozenges 2016.

GlaxoSmithKline. Frequently Asked Questions About Nicorette 2016.

National Institutes of Health. Nicotine Lozenges. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/meds/a606019.html Updated July 15, 2016.

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