How does it work?
Nicorette microtabs contain nicotine. They are a type of medicine known as nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) and are used to help smokers give up the habit.
Nicotine is the addictive substance present in tobacco. Smokers who try to give up often experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms and cravings for cigarettes, because they are dependent on the nicotine in tobacco. Withdrawal symptoms can include irritability, headaches, restlessness, insomnia and difficulty concentrating. These, combined with cigarette cravings, are why it is difficult for some people to give up smoking.
Nicotine replacement therapies work by giving you a small amount of nicotine, but without the dangerous effects of inhaling tobacco smoke. This helps relieve the withdrawal symptoms and cravings for a cigarette that you get when you stop smoking, and allows you to get on with breaking the psychological habit of smoking. If you are physically addicted to nicotine, using NRT has been shown to almost double your chances of successfully quitting smoking.
Nicorette microtabs are designed to dissolve under your tongue. The nicotine is then absorbed into the bloodstream from the lining of your mouth to provide relief from cravings.
NRT comes in many forms. There are factsheets on all these linked at the end of this page. Nicotine patches can be used to help prevent cravings for cigarettes, while nasal sprays, inhalators, chewing gum, tablets that dissolve under the tongue, and lozenges, are all forms that can be used instead of smoking when you get a cigarette craving.
As well as breaking the physical addiction, you also need to break the smoking habits you used to have. Try to avoid situations where you will be tempted to smoke, and remember to seek help and support whenever you feel like giving in to your cravings.
What is it used for?
If you have already quit smoking completely, Nicorette microtabs can be used to relieve cravings for a cigarette.
If you are not yet ready to stop smoking completely, Nicorette microtabs are also licensed to help you to cut down the number of cigarettes you smoke each day, by taking a tablet instead of having a cigarette. This can make it easier to eventually stop smoking completely.
How do I use it?
- Follow the instructions provided with the microtabs.
- Nicorette microtabs should be allowed to dissolve under the tongue. They should not be chewed or swallowed like normal tablets, as this is more likely to cause side effects such as throat and stomach irritation, indigestion or hiccups.
- You can take one to two tablets per hour to relieve your cravings to smoke, depending on how many cigarettes you normally smoke and how strong they are. (Heavy smokers, who smoke more than 20 cigarettes a day, are recommended to take two tablets per hour.) You should not take more than 40 tablets a day, though most smokers need less than this.
- When you quit smoking completely, it is recommended that you use one to two tablets every hour, for up to three months after stopping smoking. After this time your psychological urge to smoke should be less. You should then be able to gradually reduce the number of tablets you are using, so that you are using less and less nicotine. (It is rare to become dependent on the tablets. If this happens it is much less dangerous than being dependent on cigarettes and is a much easier habit to break than smoking.) You should stop using the tablets when your consumption is down to one or two tablets a day.
- If you are using the microtabs to help you cut down the number of cigarettes you smoke a day, you should make a quit attempt as soon as you feel ready. This should be no later than six months after starting to cut down using the microtabs. Seek advice from your doctor, pharmacist or nurse if you find this difficult. You should also ask your doctor or pharmacist for advice if you haven’t managed to reduce the number of cigarettes you smoke within six weeks of starting to use the microtabs.
- Acidic drinks such as coffee, sodas and fruit juices can reduce the amount of nicotine that is absorbed from the mouth, if you drink them in the 15 minutes prior to taking a Nicorette microtab.
- Make sure you do not leave Nicorette microtabs where children can reach them. Doses of nicotine that are tolerated by adult smokers during treatment can produce severe symptoms of poisoning in small children and may prove fatal.
Use with caution in
- Adolescents aged 12 to 18 years old. (If you are in this age group you should not use NRT for longer than 12 weeks without consulting a doctor, pharmacist or nurse for advice.)
- Disease involving the heart and blood vessels (cardiovascular disease). (Using NRT is much less hazardous than continuing to smoke. However, if you are in hospital because you have recently had a heart attack or stroke or you have severe irregular heart beats, you should ideally try to stop smoking without using NRT. Seek advice from your doctor.)
- Diabetes. (Monitor your blood sugar more closely when starting NRT.)
- Peptic ulcer.
- Inflamed stomach lining (gastritis).
- Inflammation of the food pipe (oesophagitis).
- Inflammation of the mouth or throat.
- Overactive thyroid gland (hyperthyroidism).
- Tumour of the adrenal gland (phaeochromocytoma).
- Severely decreased kidney function.
- Moderate to severely decreased liver function.
- Nicorette microtabs lemon flavour contain aspartame, which may be harmful for people with an inherited disorder of protein metabolism called phenylketonuria.
Not to be used in
- This medicine is not recommended for use in children under 12 years of age.
This medicine should not be used if you are allergic to any of its ingredients. Please inform your doctor or pharmacist if you have previously experienced such an allergy.
If you feel you have experienced an allergic reaction, stop using this medicine and inform your doctor or pharmacist immediately.
Pregnancy and breastfeeding
Certain medicines should not be used during pregnancy or breastfeeding. However, other medicines may be safely used in pregnancy or breastfeeding providing the benefits to the mother outweigh the risks to the unborn baby. Always inform your doctor if you are pregnant or planning a pregnancy, before using any medicine.
- Nicotine in any form should ideally not be used during pregnancy, as it has been shown to adversely affect the development of the baby, both in the womb and after birth. However, for pregnant women who are unable to give up smoking without a smoking cessation aid, NRT may deliver less nicotine (and none of the other potentially disease-causing agents) than would be obtained from cigarettes. As a result, it is considered that NRT poses less of a risk to the baby than continuing to smoke. Pregnant women who smoke should discuss the risks and benefits of NRT with their doctor as early as possible in their pregnancy and only use this medicine on their advice. The aim should be to stop using NRT as soon as possible, preferably after two to three months.
- Nicotine taken in any form passes into breast milk and is harmful to the nursing infant. However, for women who are unable to give up smoking without a smoking cessation aid, NRT may deliver less nicotine (and none of the other potentially disease-causing agents) than would be obtained from cigarettes. It is also less hazardous than the second-hand smoke that the infant would be exposed to if the mother continued to smoke. This medicine can therefore be used during breastfeeding. Wherever possible, the microtabs should be used immediately after breastfeeding and not in the two hours before breastfeeding, in order to reduce the amount of nicotine that the infant is exposed to.
Medicines and their possible side effects can affect individual people in different ways. The following are some of the side effects that are known to be associated with this medicine. Just because a side effect is stated here does not mean that all people using this medicine will experience that or any side effect.
Common (affect between 1 in 10 and 1 in 100 people)
- Awareness of your heartbeat (palpitations).
- Burning sensation in the mouth.
- Sore mouth or throat.
- Dry mouth.
- Abdominal discomfort.
- Inflammation of the lining of the nose, causing a blocked or runny nose (rhinitis).
Rare (affect between 1 in 1000 and 1 in 10,000 people)
- Allergic reactions including swelling of lips and throat (angiodema).
Very rare (affect less than 1 in 10,000 people)
- Irregular heart beat (atrial fibrillation).
The side effects listed above may not include all of the side effects reported by the medicine’s manufacturer.
For more information about any other possible risks associated with this medicine, please read the information provided with the medicine or consult your doctor or pharmacist.
How can this medicine affect other medicines?
Nicotine replacement itself does not affect other medicines. However, the components of tobacco smoke can cause certain medicines to be removed from the body faster than normal. This means that when you stop smoking, they could be removed slower and so their blood levels may increase. You should tell your doctor that you are giving up smoking if you are taking the following medicines, as when you stop smoking your doses may need to be changed:
- theophylline .
People with diabetes who smoke normally need more insulin, as smoking reduces the amount of insulin that is absorbed into the blood from an injection under the skin. Therefore if people with diabetes give up smoking, they may subsequently need a reduction in their insulin dose. People with diabetes should monitor their blood sugar levels more closely when stopping smoking. Discuss this with your doctor.
Using nicotine replacement therapy in combination with bupropion (Zyban) or varenicline (Champix) is not currently recommended. You can, however, use a combination of different NRT products if you find this is helpful. Ask your pharmacist for advice.
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