Is chewing nicotine gum bad for you?

Is chewing nicotine gum bad for you?

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Malaysians now have access to multiple NRT (Nicotine Replacement Therapy) to help them stop smoking with or without a doctor’s prescription. One of the most ubiquitous NRT is nicotine gum and nicorette as one of the top brands in Malaysia. The Malaysia Guideline for Treatment of Tobacco Usage Disorders approves the consumption of nicotine gum in any stage of nicotine dependence. However, there are still some questions that are often asked by consumers regarding nicotine gum. These questions will be explored thoroughly through this article.

What is the long term effect of nicotine gum usage?

Nicotine gum contains very small concentrations of nicotine which metabolizes in the body and turns to cotinine. Its purpose is mainly to manage or slightly offset symptoms of nicotine withdrawal among smokers. The recommended period of usage for nicotine gum is about 2-6 months maximum. However, some may forget or feel that they want to use more than the suggested durations. 

In those circumstances, nicotine gum side effects are still minimal and close to non-existence. A systematic review on cotinine level from NRT reveals, the usage of single NRT alone without any combination with intermittent smoking, has less side effects. Even research that suggests nicotine damages the cardiovascular system has only been shown among smokers and not nicotine gum users. In simpler terms, long-term nicotine gum usage is still relatively safer compared to smoking

Another regular concern is whether prolonged nicotine gum use increases risk of cancer. This concern arises mainly from confusion on how tobacco chewing increases risk of oral cancer but not nicotine gum. The answer is because chewable tobacco contains many other harmful chemicals but nicotine gum does not. The conclusion reached by the American Association for Cancer Research is that long-term nicotine gum is still much safer than smoking or chewable tobacco. The decision aligned with Sustainable Development Goals of reducing premature death from smoking by 2030. 

Is there any dietary restriction while on nicotine gum?

The short answer is no. As mentioned earlier, it only contains nicotine that metabolizes into cotinine. Nicotine chemically acts as both stimulant and depressant. Every  intake of product containing nicotine will give out epinephrine boosts, causing stimulant overall feelings and as it decreases over time lead to a depressant state. Thus, no dietary restriction is required.

Albeit being relatively safe, please refer to your doctor or pharmacist before starting the treatment. 

Can nicotine gum cause nicotine addiction?

In order to answer this question, cases of nicotine gum addicts should be categorized into known smokers and never smokers. Among known smokers, there are a few cases of nicotine gum addicts. This is because of the failed effort of stopping nicotine dependence, leading smokers to only change their method of nicotine intake. Therefore, doctors around the world unanimously agree that NRT alone is not the answer to smoking cessation efforts.

Until today, there are no clinically reported cases of nicotine gum addiction among the never smokers population. It might be partly because of strict control of the substance and most of the products in the market have the same price as a pack of cigarettes. Hence, preventing and demotivates teens or non-smokers to actually buy them.

Is it possible to overdose from nicotine gums?

Due to the very small trace of nicotine in the product, cases of nicotine gum overdose are very rare. These cases of nicotine gum overdoses often occur among those who still smoke while on NRTs, people who use more than one NRTs at the same time and individuals who consumed more than the daily recommended amount. Even in these instances, the side effects are very mild and moderate. The symptoms include:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Palpitations

If you missed a dose, avoid using 2 pieces of gum at once to make up the dosage. Instead it depends on the time. When it’s still early to your scheduled dose, take it as usual but if it’s closer to the next dose, omit the missed dose and continue as usual. 

How to stop using nicotine gum?

The best way to stop nicotine gum is the weaning off method. You can start by choosing the most likely time of the day that you can omit nicotine gum dose. Repeat the reduced gum use for a few days until you are comfortable with the regiment and notices no cravings develop. It doesn’t matter how long you take to step down from the original dosage. As long as you can finally stop nicotine dependence for good.

Conclusion

Nicotine gum is a tool to aid in the smoking cessation process. It is not a one-shot answer. A successful effort in quitting smoking still depends on you, the patient, with the help of doctors. There are an abundance of quit smoking programmes and support systems available. It is time for you to choose one today!

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