A nicotine patch is a square patch that resembles a bandage and contains nicotine. It is used as an aid to quit smoking. Nicotine patches are one of the several nicotine replacement therapies available. The other nicotine replacement therapies are gums, lozenges and nasal sprays. Like the other therapies, the nicotine patch should be used alone. Using it with other forms of nicotine, such as cigarettes, puts the user at risk.
Types and Use
There are a different types of nicotine patches including CQ, Habitrol, Nicoderm and Nicotrol. Not all patches contain the same amount of nicotine. Users may start out with the highest dose patch and gradually move down to a lower dose patch. The patch should be placed on the upper arm or chest where there is no hair. The amount of time the patch is left on before being replaced depends on the brand, but most patches do need to be replaced within 24 hours.
Smoking while using the nicotine patch may cause nicotine overdose. This overdose is caused from a build-up of nicotine in a person's system that their body is not able to handle, which can cause side effects. These effects can range from short-term to long-term and can be mild or very serious. Since there is the possibility of an overdose, doctors suggest that you never smoke a cigarette while on the nicotine patch and refrain from smoking even several hours before or after wearing a patch.
Wearing the nicotine patch and smoking can cause many short-term side effects. Headaches and dizziness are common. Users may experience an upset stomach and diarrhoea. Some have even reported weakness and fainting. Blurred vision and hearing loss are also reported side effects of smoking while wearing the patch. These side effects do not generally have any long-term effects and dissipate fairly quickly. However, medical treatment should be sought regardless of the severity of these symptoms.
There are long-term and dangerous effects of smoking while wearing a nicotine patch. These include stroke and heart attack. A stroke is an inadequate blood supply to the brain caused by a blocked or hemorrhaging blood vessel. Symptoms of a stroke include numbness in the body, trouble speaking, confusion and trouble with coordination. A heart attack is usually caused by a blocked coronary artery. Symptoms of a heart attack are severe chest pain and shortness of breath. The pain can radiate down the arms especially the left one. A stroke or heart attack can lead to death so medical treatment must be sought immediately.
Experts agree that it is never a good idea to smoke while wearing a nicotine patch. It is very risky and if the user continues to still smoke, then the patch should be discontinued and alternative methods for quitting smoking should be utilised. Quitting smoking is difficult and even though a nicotine patch can help with the cravings, it may not be an effective way to quit smoking for everyone.