What are nicotine lozenges?
Nicotine lozenges are one form of nicotine replacement therapy that can be used to help you stop smoking over a period of time. They’re dissolving tablets you can hold in your mouth, and they come in a variety of flavors.
Nicotine replacements can ease nicotine withdrawal symptoms and allow you to control the frequency and amount of your dosage. Lozenges are dosed based on how heavy of a smoker you are. They can also be combined with the nicotine patch.
Nicotine lozenges are available in several different flavors, brands, and varieties. Nicorette and Commit are the primary brand names that offer nicotine lozenges in 2 milligram (mg) and 4 mg dosages.
The lozenges are also available as over-the-counter, generic medicines (such as the GoodSense brand) at chain drug stores across the country. Some companies like Nicorette offer regular and mini-sized lozenges, depending on your preference.
Lozenges come in 2 mg and 4 mg dosage options and are usually indicated for a use period of 8 weeks.
If you choose to use lozenges to curb your cigarette cravings, you’ll base your dosage on whether you smoke your first cigarette within half an hour of waking in the morning or after. People who begin smoking within 30 minutes of getting up generally require the 4 mg dose.
When you take your lozenge:
- Only take one at a time.
- Don’t eat for at least 15 minutes before use.
- Don’t eat or drink with the lozenge in your mouth.
- Let the lozenge sit in your mouth, moving it from side to side occasionally — don’t suck, chew, or swallow.
- Specifically avoid consuming acidic drinks before and during lozenge use, as the acid interferes with nicotine absorption.
The lozenge should dissolve in your mouth within half an hour.
Quitting smoking can dramatically increase your overall health and quality of life — with some benefits beginning as soon as you quit.
Because smoking can adversely affect your ears, eyes, skin, and mouth, quitting could promote better hearing, sight, dermal, and oral health. Quitting can also:
- lower your cholesterol
- reduce your risk of heart disease and other heart issues
- lower your risk of developing blood clots
- reduce your risk of developing lung or oral cancers
Nicotine lozenges may be right for people who want to quit but don’t want to (or can’t) chew nicotine gum. (If you have a TMJ disorder or dentures, for example, you may not be able to chew gum.)
Lozenges are also more discreet than gum and can be more discreet than a patch. Nicorette offers a mini lozenge variety that is even easier to conceal than the standard size.
On the other hand, if you need distracting mouth movement while you get control of your cigarette craving, gum might be your best bet.
Lozenges might also be a better choice than a patch if you have a history of skin irritation to adhesive.
Nicotine patches like Nicoderm CQ deliver tiny doses of nicotine throughout the day, and they don’t require the extra maintenance of thinking about when you’re going to take your next dose.
However, they don’t provide the same level of control over your nicotine intake that a lozenge offers. If you need to have more control over your nicotine, lozenges could be best for you.
While nicotine lozenges can help you meet your goal to quit smoking, it can be tempting to overuse or misuse them.
They’re sweet like candy, and you can use them when you need them, so it can be easy to take more than you need or more than is recommended in a 24-hour period.
People who use nicotine lozenges are meant to wean themselves off the medication within the recommended period of time. Prolonged use can raise your risk of serious side effects and withdrawal symptoms, such as:
- severe nicotine cravings
Like all drugs, nicotine lozenges carry the risk of adverse side effects with use. Some common side effects include:
- sore throat
It’s also possible to overdose on nicotine when you’re using any form of nicotine replacement therapy. Overdose symptoms include:
- severe headache
- dizzy spells
- passing out or severe fatigue
- hearing loss or impairment
- distorted or blurry vision
- breaking out in a cold sweat
- throwing up
- stomach aches or stomach upset
- mental confusion
If you’re addicted to the feeling of a cigarette in your mouth, you might be at risk of overusing your lozenges. In that case, you might do better chewing nicotine gum since as it gives you the mouth movements you crave in addition to a dose of nicotine.
If you know you might have issues controlling your nicotine intake via either lozenge or gum, you might want to think about using the patch instead.
Nicotine patches deliver a measured dose throughout the day, and the patches are made in gradually decreasing doses to help you wean yourself off nicotine within the recommended period.
Using nicotine lozenges can also cause serious side effects that require a visit to your doctor, including:
- persistent throat irritation that gets increasingly worse
- heart palpitations or irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia)
- issues with your teeth, gums, or other tissues in your mouth (like sores)
- interactions with other medications you may be taking
- severe allergic reaction
You should seek your doctor’s advice before using a nicotine replacement if you:
- have experienced cardiac issues like heart attack within the past two weeks
- have chest pain that gets persistently worse
- are pregnant or planning to become pregnant
- have arrhythmia or tachycardia (rapid heart rate)
- have experienced a stroke or ministroke within the past two weeks
With the proper combination of nicotine replacements, accountability, and support, you can overcome your smoking habit and improve your quality of life.
Become aware of the reasons why you need to quit, communicate actively and openly with your doctor, and seek a support group that will help you on your journey.