Nicotine Nasal Spray
What Is It?
Nicotine nasal spray is aerosolized nicotine contained in a spray pump. The nicotine is delivered to the user by spraying it into the nostrils, and is rapidly absorbed by the nasal membranes inside the nose. The spray device is similar to over-the-counter decongestant sprays.
Because it is rapidly absorbed, nasal spray delivers the nicotine "hit" much more quickly than other nicotine replacement therapies. This feature makes it attractive to some highly dependent smokers. The downside to the spray is that it causes nose and throat irritations. However, these side effects usually subside after the first week of use.
Research on nicotine nasal spray has demonstrated that it helps to boost quit rates when compared with placebo sprays.
Nicotine nasal spray was approved for use by the FDA in 1996. It is currently available by prescription only.
Warnings, Cautions and Various Nasty Possibilities
The most common side effects from the nasal spray are irritation of the nose and throat, watering eyes, sneezing and cough. These side effects are usually short-lived and are tolerated after the first week of use. As always, you should seek the advice of a doctor to determine whether this product is appropriate for you. Users should be aware that the dependency potential is greater with the nicotine nasal spray than with nicotine gum or the nicotine patch.
Using Nicotine Nasal Spray
Users administer 1-2 doses per hour. One spray to each nostril constitutes a "dose." The Agency for Health Care Policy and Research (ACHPR) recommends a maximum of 5 doses per hour, or 40 doses per day. Manufacturers suggest that people use the spray for a duration of up to 8 weeks, then stopping or tapering the dose during the following 4-6 weeks. Make sure you read and follow the directions enclosed with the medication, as well as any other information given to you by your doctor.
Why Choose the Nasal Spray?
The spray may be a good choice for smokers who are highly dependent, because it reduces nicotine cravings within several minutes of dosing. Compared to gum and the patch, nasal spray takes effect more rapidly, and allows the user to self-dose as necessary. You should be aware, however, that the dependency potential is greater with the nicotine nasal spray than with nicotine gum or the nicotine patch. If you are concerned about ongoing addiction you may want to consider the gum, patch or bupropion.
To help you determine if the nasal spray is right for you, you may consider using the QuitNet Medication Wizard.
More medically specific information ...
If you think that the Nicotine Nasal Spray is right for you, see your doctor about a prescription.
Alan S. Peters, CTTS-M
Andy Perez, MD, MBA, FACEP, February 2009