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Nicotine Replacement Therapy: Nicotine Patches

“Quitting smoking isn’t easy, but it’s the best thing smokers can do for their health” - these true words reflect thoughts of almost all smokers that usually don’t move to the practice of quitting. Lack of desire, weak will or too deep dependence - are common obstacles on this hard way. Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) was invented to lighten the stop-smoking process by substitution of the way of nicotine delivery to the body with further reduction of its amount to zero. Some of nicotine products are available only by doctor’s prescription, others are over-the-counter. The efficiency of different forms of NRT (nicotine patches, inhalers, nasal sprays tablets and gums) is nearly the same. The choice should be imposed by person’s likes and peculiarities. All of them make withdrawal symptoms less severe and help to maintain short-period abstinence.

Nicotine patches are usually tan adhesive bandages of different shapes and sizes covered with nicotine comprising layer from one side.

The bandage is applied to clean, dry, non-hairy skin. The time of application vary depending on type of the patch: 24 or 16-17 (excluding sleeping period) hours. The patches should be changed each day at the same time.

A specific amount of nicotine (which depends on the type of the patch) steadily travels out of the patch through skin into the bloodstream. It takes 2-4 hours after placing of the patch to achieve peak concentration of nicotine in the body.

The treatment with nicotine patches is usually conducted in three or four steps, slowly reducing the nicotine supply from 21 mg (if person smokes 1 pack per day) to 7 mg with the interim dose of 14 mg.

Persons with heart, thyroid or skin diseases, diabetes, high blood pressure, kidney or liver disease form a group of risk while using any nicotine products. Pregnant, breast-feeding and highly allergic individuals also should be careful and consult with physician before use of these products.

In case of overdose or incorrect use of nicotine patch, may occur following side effects: high blood pressure, nausea, dizziness, hearing problems, upset stomach, bad headaches, vomiting, cold sweats, weakness or fainting, drooling, blurred vision or vivid dreams. Appearing of readiness, itching, swelling, burning or tingling in the patch area is normal reaction on medicine and subsides in 30-60 min after removing.

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It’s not recommended to combine several forms of NTR and is prohibited to smoke and consume alcohol during treatment.

Among benefits of this NTR form should be mentioned slow rate of nicotine income (it reduces the chances to change addictions) and its high invisibility compared to other ways of stop-smoking therapy.

One of the serious drawbacks of nicotine patch use is its helplessness with physiological aspect of smoking. Besides that steady amount of nicotine which is delivered all the time from the patch does not mimic the alternate high and low levels of nicotine when you smoke.

Expenses on this therapy on average come to $4/day.

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