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Nicotine Gum: Friend or Foe?

Here’s some good news: Quitting smoking is among the most common New Year’s Resolutions people make. The bad news is that according to a Forbes article, 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail. 

If you’ve resolved to quit smoking any time during the year (and not just during the new year), the odds could be stacked up against you. Quitting smoking lowers the risk of at least 12 types of cancers, and that’s just one of the many benefits of quitting smoking. This is why smokers try and try again to quit smoking.

The journey to a smoke-free life is difficult. In the course of this journey, you will experience anxiety, restlessness, irritability, nervousness, and difficulty sleeping. Making it harder to do without your daily fix. These challenges are all part of the withdrawal symptoms that occur because of the body’s physical and psychological dependence on smoking. 

Smokers believe that they must smoke in order to feel "normal" and that they cannot finish their daily tasks until they've had their quota of cigarettes, which makes it even more difficult for a smoker to quit the habit as they find themselves unable to function and carry out even basic everyday tasks.

The main cause behind a smoker’s unrelenting urge to smoke is a substance called nicotine that is a part of all types of cigarettes including e-cigarettes. While nicotine is not a carcinogen by itself, it is habit-forming, addictive, and is responsible for keeping people hooked, increasing their cigarette consumption exponentially with time. When inhaled along with cigarette smoke, it produces an artificial sensation of relaxation and creates a temporary pleasure. Because of this, it is highly addictive and persistent, turning it into a habit that is very difficult to break.

There are many aids and solutions available to help you to quit smoking. Your doctor may prescribe some solutions such as Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT).

Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) is available in the form of gums, tablets, and patches.  These products contain a limited amount of nicotine - which satisfies the smoker’s craving for nicotine and is meant to be consumed in prescribed doses to gradually reduce the smoker’s dependence on nicotine till s/he can completely quit the habit.

NRT however has its share of problems, especially when undertaken for extended periods of time and in excessive amounts,

Will nicotine gum make me addicted to it?

Will the long-term effects of nicotine gum result in additional health problems?

Let us go over all you need to know about nicotine gum in this article.

Is Nicotine Gum Bad for You? Check Out the Facts

Nicotine gum helps relieve cravings and withdrawal symptoms by replacing nicotine normally obtained from smoking with a small dose from the nicotine gum or patch. Nicotine gum must be consumed as per the doctor's prescription. It is not meant to be used in the same manner as regular chewing gum.

Nicotine gum is intended to address the craving without the user actually needing to smoke a cigarette. This way it successfully ensures the elimination of other harmful elements that cigarette smoke is made up of.

Nicotine gum, when used for extended periods of time, can have negative consequences on health.

Common Side Effects of Nicotine Gum 

The common side effects of nicotine gum  include the following :

  • Heightened blood pressure
  • Increased heart rate
  • Dizziness
  • Irritability
  • Loss of appetite
  • Heartburn
  • Hiccups
  • Increased salivation
  • Indigestion
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Cough
  • Gas
  • Sore throat
  • Oral irritation

 5 Severe Side Effects of Nicotine Gum 

Chewing nicotine gum is different from having regular gum. You briefly chew it before "edging" it between your cheek and the area under your teeth. Thus the majority of the nicotine is absorbed in your mouth. Below is a breakdown of the severe side effects of chewing nicotine gum. 

1. Increase in Stomach Problems

Nicotine gum triggers abdominal distress and nausea if it is chewed often and for a prolonged period. It may also cause bloating and indigestion in some people.

2. Sleep Deprivation

Those who have been using nicotine gum for over six months tend to complain of recurrent nightmares and disruptive sleep that leads to other severe health conditions such as obesity, diabetes, fatigue, and overall decreased quality of life.

3. Premature Hair Loss 

The excessive consumption of nicotine in any form can damage hair follicles, causing hair loss. If consumed for long, nicotine gum can hamper blood circulation which also leads to premature balding.

4. Increased Oral Cancer Risk 

A recent study conducted by scientists at the University of London proves that long-term users of nicotine gum are more susceptible to mutations in their FOXM1 gene and, therefore, are more likely to develop oral cancer.

5. Gum Addiction  

Even though nicotine gum holds a much lesser quantity of nicotine than cigarettes, it can still be addictive if taken for too long. When nicotine gum is chewed, the nicotine in it is absorbed by the tissues that coat the mouth and is passed into the bloodstream. Over time, the body becomes habituated to these small shots of nicotine, and it becomes even harder to quit the nicotine addiction.

Long-Term Effects of Nicotine Gum

A study conducted by the National Library of Medicine shows that:

The main component of cigarette smoke is nicotine, when used for a prolonged period of time can cause

  • insulin resistance
  • metabolic abnormalities connected to the insulin resistance syndrome
  • a rise in cardiovascular morbidity 

Therefore, the use of nicotine replacement treatment should only be limited and minimal.

Final Thoughts

In the process of trying to quit smoking, consuming nicotine gum may reduce the intensity of initial withdrawal symptoms and keep you off cigarettes by satisfying your craving for the carcinogenic compounds found in cigarettes. But it is vital to slowly let go of these smaller doses of nicotine as well before your body starts depending on them.

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