Trying to quit smoking? A nicotine patch is a right choice. Does that mean expired nicotine patches too?
Nicotine is a chemical that is found in tobacco plants. It is the primary addictive substance that makes quitting cigarette smoking and other tobacco products so tricky. It is not carcinogenic like other chemicals in a cigarette, so it is used to help people quit smoking through nicotine replacement therapies.
There are several nicotine replacement therapies like the nicotine patch, gum, lozenge, inhaler, and nasal spray; the safest and most effective method being nicotine patch.
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Uses of nicotine patch
How do nicotine patches work?
Smoking cigarettes or vapor deliver a high amount of nicotine to your body, along with toxins and carcinogens, in a brief period. Nicotine is a stimulant drug, stimulating the brain and releasing feel-good hormones that help the person concentrate.
It also makes you hungry, and if you don’t satisfy that urge, it will make you irritable. It also doesn’t wash away from the system very soon. And all of this happens even if you take a single puff, so always commit to the “not a single puff” rule if you’re trying to quit.
The goal of nicotine patches is to deliver a steady amount of nicotine to help make withdrawal easier by eventually reducing the nicotine dose in the patch over time and quitting altogether. The patch releases nicotine quickly but steadily for 16-24hours, whichever is more helpful to diminish your craving for cigarettes.
How do you know if your patch is working?
Applying the patch correctly is crucial. The way you use, duration, and site all play an essential role ineffectiveness of the patch. It is also necessary to know and do certain things while taking nicotine patches.
Signs to know your patch is working
Within the first week of using your patch, signs of nicotine withdrawal will start to wear off.
A sudden lack of nicotine causes nicotine withdrawal. It is demonstrated by-.
- Overwhelming craving to smoke
- Feeling a rollercoaster of emotions-irritation, depression, anxiety, restlessness, exhaustion all at once
- Having a hard time concentrating
- Having trouble sleeping
- Increased appetite causing weight gain
Do expired nicotine patches still work?
Yes, they do. But is it recommended by the manufacturers? No.
Drug expiration dates are mentioned in bold on the drug package to let you know the last date for which the manufacturer provides the full potency of the drug. It is there so the manufacturers can produce legal issues that might arise from consuming the expired nicotine patch.
Using out-of-date nicotine patches is not dangerous because there are likely no harmful effects of using expired nicotine patches. Nicotine patches don’t contain any published degenerative products, so with time, it will only deliver less nicotine than it is supposed to. You might as well get the total dose, but the company won’t guarantee that.
Hence, even if your nicotine patch is grandpa old, it will still give off some nicotine if stored correctly. Now, how do you keep nicotine patches accurately?
Best place to put to nicotine patches
Apply a new patch every day at a fixed time to a clean, dry, and hairless place like chest, abdomen, back, shoulder, or upper arm. These areas have good circulation, so there will be better absorption.
Apply the patch to a different area every day and make sure you use the correct strength patch for yourself. There are three dosages available, but 21mg(if you smoke 11 or more cigarettes per day currently)and 14mg(if you smoke 10 or more cigarettes per day).
Things to know or do while taking nicotine patches
- Combine therapy with counseling for better help
- Don’t use more than prescribed
- Monitor your blood sugar closely if you have diabetes
- Inform your health care provider if you have health problems like chest pain, hypertension, or a history of recent heart attack
- Inform your health care provider if you’re suffering from any side effects.
Side effects mainly include allergic reaction to the patch(rash, redness, swelling), irritation, rapid heart rate, trouble sleeping, or having bad dreams. Other side effects include weakness resulting in tremor, confusion, numbness, joint pain, back pain, and gastrointestinal effects like upset stomach and vomiting.
- If you’re 65 years or older, your side effects might be more pronounced, so make sure to discuss them with your healthcare provider before you start using patches.
- Stop using patches if you’re pregnant or lactating to prevent risk to your baby.
How long are nicotine patches good for?
According to the USA food and drug administration(FDA), 8-12 weeks is approved. However, it is safe and effective for up to 6 months. The period was extended by the FDA later as doctors saw in research that the chances of relapse are more significant when the therapy is continued for eight weeks.
Quit success rates are greater when used for 6 months. Based on findings, even one year of use is fine, but there are no added benefits after 6 months of use, so the FDA-approved extended period of 6 months for nicotine patch therapy is perfect.
How to store and dispose of nicotine patches?
Store your nicotine patch at room temperature in a dry place for long-lasting effects. According to a study, if bacteria can get to the nicotine, they will break it down quickly within a half-life of just five days.
But if the patch is kept dry and if the room temperature is maintained, it takes much longer for the nicotine to break down. Therefore, it is essential to maintain the condition precisely.
In case of throwing off your used patch or expired nicotine patch, fold the sticky ends when you take it off your skin. Throw away your unused or expired patch but make sure not to flush it down a toilet or pour it down a drain.
Also, make sure to keep your patch out of reach of children and pets.
Coming off nicotine patches
After various study outcomes, nicotine replacement therapy has been decided to be given for 2-3 months after smoking cessation. You can extend it until the risk of relapse is ensured to be negligible.
Towards the end of the therapy, lower the dose to taper off nicotine in your body gradually, so there is enough time for your body to adjust.
Amongst the many nicotine replacement therapies, the nicotine patch is the most effective therapy for people who want to quit smoking. Expired nicotine patches don’t have any harmful effects, so they are safe to use and are effective if stored correctly and used with necessary precautions.
Can I smoke with the patch on?
Not. You mustn’t smoke while wearing the patch because it increases addiction and tolerance to nicotine and increases the risk of developing nicotine toxicity.
Can I exercise with the patch on?
It is acceptable for you to do mild to moderate exercise but not strenuous exercise.
Can I shower with the patch on?
You can shower, swim, bathe and do everything you want if your patch stays in place. If you have trouble with the patch sticking to your skin, you can fix it with medical tape.
Can I chew nicotine gum while on the patch?
Yes. The combination of the two is not harmful. More practical, flourishing quit rates. However, don’t chew the nicotine gum like regular gum!