We all know how hard it is when you are trying to quit smoking. Nicotine Replacement Therapies (NRTs) have become a major ally to smokers who combat their smoking addiction. NRTs are made to reduce any withdrawal symptoms and manage the cravings that typically come with quitting smoking. NRTs are available in various formats such as patches, gums, lozenges, inhalers and nasal sprays. This article explores the safety, effectiveness and use of these aids to assist smokers in making informed choices. Let’s get in:

How Does NRT Work?

Cigarettes are highly addictive. This is because cigars contain a certain chemical called ‘nicotine. When you keep smoking for some time, your brain gets used to this chemical, craving more when you don’t. So when you are trying to quit smoking, you are giving up nicotine too, leading to withdrawal symptoms.

NRTs work by providing a controlled amount of nicotine to the body, which helps to lessen these physical withdrawal symptoms experienced during the quit process.  A lot of individuals can stop smoking without going for NRTs. The majority of those who attempt do not succeed on their 1st try. In reality, individuals striving to give up typically require many attempts before kicking the habit for good. The majority of individuals who endeavour to quit independently end up returning to smoking within the month after quitting – frequently due to these withdrawal symptoms.

You can start using NRTs as soon as you plan to give up on tobacco, helping you throughout your quitting journey. This is because your body and mind have to get used to not having nicotine and that should be done gradually to make things easier for you.

Does NRT Work?

All forms of nicotine replacement therapies can help you get rid of your smoking habit. Studies show that NRTs can double the chances of quitting smoking successfully when combined with support from health professionals and cessation programs. The effectiveness varies by type, with some individuals responding better to patches while others find gums or lozenges more helpful.

How Long Should You Use NRTs for?

The recommended duration for using NRTs is usually up to 12 weeks, after which you should try to wean off the therapy step by step. Extended use is typically not recommended without medical advice, as the goal is to reduce nicotine dependency altogether.

Are NRTs Actually Safe?

Medications designed to help people quit smoking, such as nicotine replacement therapies are not linked to death or diseases in the way cigarettes do. Generally, NRTs are considered safe for most adults. It reduces your urge to get back to smoking so that you stay put on your decision to give up smoking once and for all. The main risks associated with smoking roots from the chemicals present in cigarette smoke rather than the nicotine itself. Unlike cigarettes, NRTs do not contain tar, carbon monoxide, or other harmful chemicals found in tobacco smoke. Thus, using a nicotine medicine will not cause cancer, lung disease or heart attacks like smoking. This makes NRTs a safer alternative for those looking to give up smoking.

Another consideration most people have is whether NRT is addictive like cigarettes. The nicotine level in NRT is significantly lower compared to a cigarette, and it also takes a longer time to hit nicotine to your brain. This means they are much easier to stop compared to cigarettes.

However, like any medical product, they can have side effects. Common minor side effects include skin irritation from patches, mouth sores from lozenges, and a tingling sensation in the throat for those using inhalers or nasal sprays. These symptoms are typically mild and go away as the body adjusts to the therapy. Make sure to read the instructions on each product carefully before using it.

Special Considerations

While NRTs are safe for most people, there are special considerations for certain groups with regards to NRT usage:

Pregnant Women:

NRTs are only recommended when the potential benefits outweigh the risks, as nicotine can affect your fetal development. A recent study also states that regular use of NRTs does not relate to adverse pregnancy issues.

Teenagers:

Typically, NRTs are not recommended for individuals under 18 without medical advice.

People with Pre-existing Health Conditions:

Those with heart disease, diabetes, or skin conditions should consult their doctor before using NRTs.

Ongoing smokers:

Other than this, people who still engage in smoking or any other tobacco use should avoid using NRT. The manufacturers of NRT products warn against using their products while still using tobacco. Seek advice from a healthcare professional if you are considering NRT while continuing to smoke.

The Final Thoughts

NRTs play a vital role in helping you quit smoking by getting rid of withdrawal symptoms and reducing the urge to smoke. While generally safe, it’s important for you to consider your personal health circumstances and ideally, to combine NRTs with professional support for the best chances of success.

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