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What are the side effects of nicotine replacement therapy?

Most people tolerate nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) quite well. It's a far safer way of getting nicotine than smoking is. However, there are some side effects:

  • Nicotine from the patch can irritate your skin. Every day, choose a new area between your neck and waist to apply your patch. Always remove the old patch.
  • Nicotine gum and lozenges may cause mouth soreness. Sprays and inhalers can irritate the nose and throat.
  • Depending on the form and the dose, you may experience insomnia, hiccups, heartburn, indigestion, and dry mouth.

Fortunately, few people have to stop NRT because of side effects.

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Based on information from iGuard.org, a free medication monitoring service, 46% of patients experience side effects while taking Nicotine (Nicoderm, Nicorette, Nicotrol). Some of the side effects reported by iGuard members include: Nausea/Vomiting, Bloating/Gas, Insomnia, Fatigue, Dizziness, High Blood Pressure, and Bone/Joint Pain. Please follow up with your doctor or other healthcare provider if you are experiencing any symptoms that worsen or do not go away.

Nicotine-replacement medication is one tool—in conjunction with a larger smoking cessation plan—that may be able to help you quit smoking. All nicotine-replacement medications (NRM) provide nicotine to a smoker without using tobacco. This helps relieve nicotine withdrawal symptoms as the smoker stops the behavior of cigarette smoking.

Some possible side effects of all of the nicotine-replacement medications may include dizziness, perspiration, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, and abdominal pain. In addition to these, there are some side effects and other considerations specific to the type of NRM used. If you are interested in beginning nicotine replacement, discuss with your physician or another qualified medical professional which form of the medication may work best for you.

Donna Hill Howes, RN
Family Practitioner

Side effects may include headaches, dizziness, irritability, insomnia, weakness, numbness and tingling, palpitations, cough, shortness of breath, indigestion, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle and joint pain, menstrual problems, oral ulcers, changes in taste, and irritation of eyes, nose, mouth, throat, or sinuses. Skin irritation, redness, swelling, and allergic reactions have been associated with the nicotine patch. 

This answer was adapted from Sharecare's award-winning AskMD app. Start a consultation now to find out what's causing your symptoms, learn how to manage a condition, or find a doctor. 

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.