Nicotine Patch Side Effects

The nicotine patch is thought by some to be the single most effective way to quit smoking. Its use has been instrumental in helping many smokers to wean themselves off of smoking, slowly. By doing so, it has increased both the quality and length of life experiences for these former smokers. The nicotine patch works by releasing a slow, continued amount of nicotine throughout the time period that it is worn. The strength of the nicotine patch is eventually lessened, which makes withdrawal easier. When combined with other therapies, a nicotine patch can turn a smoker into a non-smoker.

As important as this medication is, it is not without the possibility of side effects, some of which could be severe. In some cases, the proper application of a nicotine patch, to a clean, hairless part of the body can reduce the chances of experiencing the most common allergic reactions of a rash or itchy skin. If the skin irritation continues, moving the patch to a new location on the skin may also help.

Other side effects have included dizziness, headache, occasional skin discoloration, nausea, vomiting and drowsiness. Many of these milder side effects may occur less frequently or disappear entirely as the body acclimates to this new medication. Additionally, the patches are designed to be worn for 16-24 hours a day. If they are worn while sleeping, vivid dreams could be expected. If these become a problem, removing the nicotine patch before sleeping will usually help.

More severe side effects include anxiety, chest pain, tremors and nervousness. The most dangerous symptoms of all include irregular heartbeat and trouble breathing. The chest pain is often preceded by either anxiety or nervousness. For the average consumer, the benefits of a nicotine patch will outweigh the risks. However, this is not always true, and a physician should be consulted prior to its use.

The nicotine patch side effects may lessen in severity as the level of nicotine is reduced. It may also change if the brand of patch that is being used is altered. A nicotine patch resembles many of the other adhesive bandages, and is typically one to two inches in size.