Nicotine gum is used to help people stop smoking. It contains nicotine to help people reduce their cravings, but it lacks the other harmful effects that come with smoking and chewing tobacco. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Nicorette.com, nicotine gum was first approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 1984 and has helped millions of people successfully quit smoking. Nicotine gum is available as an over-the-counter medication. The side effects of nicotine gum vary depending on dosage, chewing mechanism and a pre-existing tolerance to nicotine.
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One of the most commonly reported side effects of nicotine gum is nausea and upset stomach. With smoking, nicotine is absorbed through the mouth, throat and lungs only. Chewing nicotine gum delivers the drug through the mouth, throat and stomach, due to the swallowing action from gum chewing. According to Drugs.com, chewing Nicorette gum can cause nausea, dry mouth, dyspepsia, diarrhea, hiccups, flatulence and stomatitis. As users become more adjusted to the new form of nicotine delivery, their gastrointestinal tract will become more tolerated to the absorption of nicotine.
Headache and Dizziness
People who use nicotine gum often experience headache and dizziness as a side effect, according to the Nicorette website. Nicotine acts as both a central nervous system stimulant and depressant depending on dose. The delivery system of smoking offers micro-dosing capabilities with each puff. Chewing nicotine gum delivers the drug in a different dose increment and this may cause an upset in the neurotransmitters dopamine, serotonin, aceylcholine and norepinephrine. According to International Programme on Chemical Safety, acute nicotine exposure can result in headache, dizziness, confusion, agitation, restlessness and incoordination. These effects may become less severe as the user learns to mediate chewing as a dosing mechanism.
Mouth irritation is another common side effect for people using nicotine gum. The symptoms may be worse if the user keeps the gum in one place for too long or if he chews too much too fast, releasing a mild toxic dose of nicotine. According to RxMed, the most common oral adverse events with nicotine gum are throat irritation, taste perversion, loosening of fillings and gingivitus. In the August 2008 issue of the "Wisconsin Medical Journal," Quinn Pack and associates found that mouth irritation was the most commonly reported side effect. These included burning mouth, mouth sores, sore gums, jaw pain and dry mouth. Users may experience less side effects by switching gum location often and by chewing in small increments and then taking the gum out temporarily.
REFERENCES & RESOURCES
- Drugs.com: Nicorette Side Effects
- Nicorette: Product Information
- International Programme on Chemical Safety: Nicotine; Ocober 2009
- Medline Plus: Nicotine Gum
- RxMed: Nicorette Plus
- "Wisconsin Medical Journal"; A Comparison of the Nicotine Losenge and Gum; Quinn Pack; August 2008
- "Cochrane Database"; Nicotine Replacement Therapy -Review; Silagy C. et al; July 2004