Is chewing nicotine gum bad for your health?

What about nicotine gums or patches to help people stop smoking? 

Although these products are available without a prescription, be sure to discuss their use with your health care professional ifyou have any symptoms of or risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

Nicotine gum contains about 2 milligrams of nicotine per piece. It is recommended that you chew an average of ten or twelve pieces per day, reducing the number over a period of several months. People with certain heart disorders, ulcers, or throat and mouth problems should not use the gum, so check with your health care professional first. Some people prefer the gum to the nicotine patch because the dose is individually controllable and gives them something to carry around and manipulate. Overuse of the nicotine gum can be a temptation, however, and some people may suffer side effects burning in the mouth or throat, nausea, and vomiting.
The nicotine patch releases nicotine through the skin and into the bloodstream. It is applied once a day and lasts for either sixteen or twenty four hours. Those using the twenty four hour patch may suffer insomnia or other minor side effects. It is generally used over a period of several weeks to several months, with the amount of nicotine gradually reduced. Again, discuss its use with your health care professional. Some people prefer using the patch to the gum because it is applied only once each day.

People who have a strong physical component to their smoking addiction may find these products useful. They ease withdrawal from the physical addiction to nicotine by delivering it in lower and gradually decreasing doses over time, and they help to break the behavioral links with tobacco use. The nicotine patch and gum release about one fourth as much nicotine into the blood as smoking does. Furthermore, none of those other hundreds of poisons present in cigarette smoke, including cyanide, are present in these products. It is important not to smoke while using them this can contribute to a heart attack, due to the combined effects of the nicotine inhaled from the smoke and the nicotine in the gum or patch.

Recently some studies have yielded encouraging evidence that some antidepressant medications may be useful in achieving smoking cessation. This new therapy clearly calls for full discussion with your health care professional.


• Visualize the recovering function of your heart and lungs. In particular, focus on a lowered heart rate, lowered blood pressure, and full oxygenation of cells, especially the cells of the heart. Think about lower fibrinogen levels in the blood, reducing the “sticky blood” and abnormal clotting conditions. Remember that your risk of anhythmias is reduced.

• Think of not smoking as a new found freedom from unnecessary, harmful actions. Some protective factors, like exercise or changing your food habits, require action. You need to actively seek out new foods or get out and exercise. But once you have stopped smoking, your job then is to avoid something; and you won’t even have to buy cigarettes.

• Think of the money you are saving. Consider applying the money you would have spent on cigarettes toward the purchase of something special.

• Consider the positive impact on the health of family and friends.

• Think of yourself as an inspiration to young people not to smoke.

• Enjoy your enhanced appearance. Smoking has been conelated with premature facial wrinkles and dry skin.

• Rediscover the joy of taste and smell. Leslie, a young writer and poet, reminds us that smoking dulls your senses of taste and smell. Writing to a friend about her emotions after she finally quit, following many failed attempts, she describes how during her walks in the park she could now smell the flowers, the spring in the air, and even, at home, something as simple and unpoetic as the scent of freshly washed clothes. Leslie found what everyone who has been a heavy smoker and quit has found: she could smell fragrances and taste things with a new zest.


• When you are with people who smoke, tell them you have quit and that it would be helpful if they did not smoke around you.

• Watch your alcohol intake; be very moderate alcohol can weaken your resolve and commitment, and, in many people, calls up associations with smoking.

• If you associate smoking with drinking liquor, switch to wine or beer.

• If you used to smoke in your car, have your car thoroughly cleaned when you quit and designate it as a “no smoking” zone.

• If other people smoke in your family, ask them to smoke outside. Spouses and relatives are usually willing to do so, as they know it affects your health.

• Chew sugarless gum, toothpicks, or straws to keep your hands or mouth busy.

• Reduce stress in your life.

• Go for a walk someplace where smoking is not allowed.

• If you were accustomed to having a cigarette with your morning coffee, try switching to tea or some other hot beverage to help break the association between coffee drinking and smoking.


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