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Congratulations on your plans to stop smoking. A smoke-free life is full of great rewards: within the first 20 minutes of quitting your body begins to heal and your blood pressure and heart rate drop. And the benefits continue to improve your health and quality of life for the days and years to come, from improved circulation and heart health to lower risk for cancers. In addition to products that help support a healthier lifestyle, studies show that Nicotine Replacement Therapies (NRT) can be useful supports in your plan to stop.
Cravings can strike at any time, so plan ahead and keep nicotine gum in your purse, wallet, or car for easy and immediate access. Available in a variety of mint and fruit flavors, you don’t chew nicotine gum like standard gum: you chew it for a short time and then “park” the piece between your cheek and gums so the nicotine can be absorbed. Each piece of nicotine gum has 2 to 4 mg of nicotine, equivalent to one or two cigarettes.
Some studies say using the nicotine patch can double the rate of success. That’s because the patch provides a steady, controlled dose of nicotine throughout the day, reducing the effects of withdrawal. Patch strength should be reduced over time — they typically come in three dosage strengths: 21 mg, 14 mg, and 7 mg — allowing you to wean yourself gradually.
Nicotine lozenges may also help soothe the cravings of nicotine withdrawal. Available in a variety of flavors, you pop one in your mouth like a cough drop and allow it to dissolve for 20 to 30 minutes. A rule of thumb for dosage: if you smoke your first cigarette within 30 minutes of waking up in the morning, use 4 mg nicotine lozenges; if you smoke your first cigarette more than 30 minutes after waking up in the morning, use 2 mg nicotine lozenges. For the first few weeks after stopping smoking, you should use one lozenge every one to two hours and gradually reduce the frequency over time.
It can be fun and encouraging to keep track of statistics other than how many cigarettes you’ve missed. Your doctor may recommend that you have a blood pressure monitor at home so you can track improvements to your blood pressure over time. Lower blood pressure is one of the many benefits of being smoke-free.
Quitting almost immediately lowers your pulse and heart rate, and it can be encouraging to see the positive impact being smoke-free is having on your heart. Track improvements by using a heart rate monitor .
People who stop smoking are often afraid of gaining weight. Incorporating aerobic exercise such as walking into your routine can help you keep the weight off. Plus, when the urge to smoke is strong, going for a brisk walk can help curb cravings. Track how far you’ve gone each day by clipping a pedometer to your waistband.
When trying to stop smoking, some people need a little extra help. Talk with your doctor about the prescription drugs now available to help you quit smoking and stay smoke-free. It can be time-consuming to keep your prescriptions filled, so look into convenient services such as auto refills and free home delivery.
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The information presented in Aisle7 is for informational purposes only. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications or other treatments.