The nicotine patch is a small adhesive patch that is affixed to the upper arm. It is designed to help smokers wean their bodies off of nicotine in order to stop smoking, and is currently available at most supermarkets, department stores and pharmacies. Do not use the nicotine patch without first discussing with your doctor, as the patch can interact with the effectiveness of other medications and negatively impact other health conditions.
The nicotine patch should be applied to the upper arm, in an area that is clean, dry and freshly shaven and/or hairless. When applying the patch, press firmly onto skin for about 20 seconds to ensure the patch is secure. It is important to wash your hands immediately after applying the patch. Some brands of nicotine patches require removal after 24 hours, while others are longer-lasting and do not require daily removal. Consult your physician about any questions you may have about application and duration of your nicotine patch.
The nicotine patch is associated with certain side effects, which may be serious. These side effects include feeling dizzy or lightheaded; upset stomach; nausea; and red, itchy skin. Many of these side effects may go away on their own a few days after starting the patch. If you experience a difficulty breathing, chest pain, tremors or irregular heartbeat, contact your doctor immediately, as he or she may need to stop treatment or adjust your medication.
It is important that you take the nicotine patch exactly as directed. Do not skip or miss a dose of this medicine. If you do forget to take your dose, take it as soon as you remember. If it is within four hours of your next scheduled dose, then skip the missed dose and only take your scheduled dose. Do not double up on this medication, as it can cause an overdose. Do not stop taking this medication without first talking to your doctor.
Nicotine patch overdose is very serious and requires immediate medical attention. If you suspect a nicotine overdose, remove the patch right away. Symptoms of nicotine overdose include nausea or vomiting; severe stomach pain; blurry vision or hearing difficulties; sweating and confusion; salivating excessively; breathing difficulties; pounding heartbeat or irregular heartbeat/heart racing; diarrhea; seizure or trembling. If you are experiencing nicotine overdose, seek emergency care and call the poison control center hotline at 1-800-222-1222.
Some preexisting health conditions can interact with the effectiveness of the nicotine patch and should be discussed with your physician. Tell your doctor if you have a history of heart disease, high blood pressure or if you are currently taking insulin for diabetes. If you are pregnant, breast-feeding or intend to become pregnant, do not use the nicotine patch.