Nicorette is a nicotine gum designed to aid in smoking cessation programs. It delivers nicotine through the blood stream when the gum is chewed to help manage cravings. The dosage of nicotine can be gradually reduced using nicotine gum, to allow smokers to quit without extensive withdrawal symptoms. However, despite its successful use as a quitting agent, nicorette does have some potentially dangerous side effects.
The most common side effects associated with nicorette are insomnia or strange dreams, diarrhoea, dry mouth, muscle or joint pain, nervousness or anxiety, weakness, sweating or irritation of the mouth. Rare but severe side effects include breathing problems, chest tightness or pounding that may be associated with serious cardiovascular side effects, and swelling of the face or mouth.
Nicotine Gum and the Heart
Chewing nicotine gum can increase heart rate and blood pressure, but not to a greater extent than smoking cigarettes does. In rare cases, myocardial infraction has been associated with chewing nicotine gum, however these instances may have been exacerbated by the instance of underlying coronary artery disease in the patient and/or the patient may have been smoking in addition to chewing the gum, thus causing a nicotine overdose.
Nicotine Gum and the Mouth
Nicotine gum may cause a sore throat in some users. In patients with asthma, nicotine may cause or increase the risk of bronchospasm. Jaw pain and/or tooth disorder is also a common complaint associated with the use of Nicorette and other nicotine gums. Dry mouth also occurs in approximately 6 per cent of Nicorette users.
Nicotine gum causes stomach problems including diarrhoea, nausea, flatulence and stomatitis in approximately 6 per cent of gum chewers. Hiccups are also common, as well as increased salivation. Between 5 per cent and 5.8 per cent of patients also experience heartburn caused by Nicorette and other gums with nicotine as the active ingredient.
Nervous System Problems
Between 3 per cent and 12 per cent of Nicorette or nicotine gum chewers report dizziness, interrupted sleep, irritability and tremors. These symptoms usually cease within days when the patient stops chewing the gum.