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Categories > Smoking > Breaking the habit

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Can’t quit smoking
Yes, you can! No ifs, ands or butts

» Nicotine patch

» Nicotine gum

» Nicotine lozenge

» Nicotine inhaler

» Nicotine nasal spray

Quitting can be harder for women

For women, it’s often extra hard to quit smoking, even with nicotine aids. Menstrual cycles can affect withdrawal symptoms, so the effectiveness of nicotine-replacement therapy may vary with your cycles.

Research suggests that women smoke less for the nicotine’s effects and more for smoking’s psychological aspects—the taste and smell of cigarettes, to enhance or decrease mood, fear of gaining weight—making counseling all the more crucial.

No doubt about it—giving up cigarettes is difficult. But you don’t have to go it alone. Cessation aids like nicotine replacement products help blunt withdrawal symptoms and curb cravings by delivering nicotine to your blood without the dangerous tar and carbon monoxide.

Talk with your healthcare provider about which nicotine-replacement product is best for you.

Nicotine patch

Description: A nicotine-containing adhesive bandage releases nicotine into your body through your skin.

Pros: Steady nicotine release, easy to use and available in varying doses without a prescription

Cons: Skin irritation may occur at patch site; nicotine levels can’t be adjusted quickly to handle cravings; possible side effects include headache, dizziness, nausea, blurred vision and sleep disturbances

Nicotine gum

Description: Chewing this nicotine-infused gum releases nicotine into the bloodstream through your mouth’s mucous membranes.

Pros: Keeps your mouth busy while satisfying cravings; delivers nicotine to the brain faster than the patch; available over the counter in two dosage strengths

Cons: you must chew enough pieces or chew it for a full treatment period to get the best results; not for smokers with jaw problems or those with dentures or other dental work

Nicotine lozenge

Description: Similar to hard candy, the lozenge is placed between the gums and cheek and sucked slowly.

Pros: Can be used inconspicuously to satisfy cravings fast; available without a prescription in two doses

Cons: Possible side effects include nausea, heartburn and hiccups

Nicotine inhaler

Description: This inhaler mimics the motions of smoking. Puffing gently on the inhaler releases nicotine vapor, which is absorbed through your throat and mouth lining.

Pros: Keeps your hands and mouth busy; you’re able to dictate the dosage

Cons: May cause coughing and throat or mouth irritation; not for those with lung diseases, such as asthma

Nicotine nasal spray

Description: Similar in use to decongestant sprays, a spray is squirted into each nostril. Nicotine is absorbed quickly through the nasal membranes, reaching the bloodstream faster than any other therapy.

Pros: The quick hit makes it ideal for highly dependent smokers

Cons: May cause nose or throat irritation

Smoking cessation drugs that don’t contain nicotine are also available; ask your healthcare provider if these might work for you.

Remember: Nicotine-replacement therapy only deals with the physical aspects of addiction. You should also attend a smoking cessation program or schedule counseling sessions to help change your behavior. The combination of nicotine aids and counseling can double your chances of success.

© 2014 Dowden Health Media