How to Use the Nicotine Nasal Spray

How to Use Nicotine Nasal Spray
Nicotine Nasal Spray icon

Nicotine Nasal Spray icon
  • You’ll need a prescription from a prescribing healthcare provider for the nicotine nasal spray.
  • To use the nasal spray, first blow your nose to ensure it is clear. Tilt your head back slightlyPut the tip of the bottle into your nostril – as far as you feel comfortable. Breathe through your mouth. Then spray once in each nostril. Do not sniff, swallow, or inhale while spraying. If your nose runs, gently sniff to keep the medicine in your nose, where it will be absorbed. Wait at least 2-3 minutes before blowing your nose. Put the cap back on the nasal spray and store out of reach of children and pets. One bottle of nasal spray typically delivers about 200 sprays.
  • During the first week, most people experience a hot, peppery feeling in the back of the throat or nose, as well as sneezing, coughing, watery eyes, or runny nose when using the nasal spray. These symptoms should lessen after a week of regular use. Contact your doctor or other healthcare provider if the symptoms are particularly bothersome or do not go away.
  • Use the nicotine nasal spray often enough, as directed by your doctor or other healthcare provider, to help control cravings for cigarettes. One dose of nasal spray is 2 sprays (one in each nostril). To ensure that your body gets enough nicotine to ease your withdrawal symptoms, it is best to use at least 8 doses per day for the first 6 weeks. Do not use more than 40 doses per day. People typically start with 1 to 2 doses per hour. Your doctor can help you set and adjust your dose and can talk about gradually reducing your dose when you are ready.
  • If the bottle breaks or leaks, wear rubber gloves to wipe up the liquid with a paper towel and to wash surfaces thoroughly. Do not let the liquid come in contact with your skin, mouth, or eyes. If it does, rinse with plain water immediately. Nicotine overdose can occur when nicotine is absorbed through the skin.
  • Keep out of reach of children and pets. Nicotine nasal spray may have enough nicotine to make children and pets sick. When you are done using the nasal spray, be sure to put the cap back on the bottle and store it out of reach of children and pets. When you finish using a spray bottle, immediately throw it in the trash. In case of accidental use or ingestion, contact a Poison Control Center right away (1-800-222-1222).
  • Learn more about the nicotine nasal sprayexternal icon, including side effects and precautions.
How to Use Nicotine Nasal Spray to Quit Smoking
The nicotine nasal spray is a prescription medicine approved by the FDA to help people quit smoking. When your doctor prescribes it, they will give you detailed instructions on how to use it and help you set and adjust your dose. This video offers general instructions on how to use the nicotine nasal spray. This video is part of a collaboration with the National Cancer Institute’s Initiative.

For more help using medicines to quit smoking, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW or visit Talk with your healthcare provider about the best medicine for you. Using medicine together with behavioral counseling gives you the best chance of quitting smoking.

Quick spray tips
nicotine nasal spray
Photo from used with permission of Mayo Clinic; no product endorsement implied.
  • Consider combining the nicotine nasal spray with nicotine patches if you continue to have withdrawal symptoms. Patches can provide a steady level of nicotine in the body to help lessen withdrawal, while the nasal spray can be used to more quickly relieve cravings as they happen.
  • If you have strong cravings while using the nicotine nasal spray, make sure you are using it often enough. It’s best to take at least 8 doses a day (one dose = two sprays, one in each nostril), and you can take up to 5 doses per hour and up to 40 doses per day.
  • What if I slip up and smoke while using the nicotine nasal spray? It is important not to smoke while using the nicotine nasal spray to reduce the risk of nicotine overdose. If you slip up and have a cigarette during your quit attempt, you can still continue your quit attempt, but consider talking with your healthcare provider about dosing changes. Throw away your cigarettes and get back on track. Keep using the nasal spray as directed.
  • What if the side effects are too much for me? Common side effects from using the nasal spray include a hot peppery feeling in the back of the throat or nose, sneezing, coughing, watery eyes, or runny nose. These should go away after about a week of regular use of the nasal spray. If they do not, or if they are particularly bothersome, contact your healthcare provider, and consider using another one of the FDA-approved quit-smoking medicines discussed on this page.
  • What if I feel like I can’t stop using the nicotine nasal spray? Nicotine nasal spray works quickly and can be addictive, like cigarettes. So, it is important to carefully follow the dosing instructions from your healthcare provider. If you feel like you need to use more than the recommended dose or you have been using it for more than 3 months and need help stopping, contact your healthcare provider for help.
  • For best results, use the nicotine nasal spray as part of a program that includes coaching support. Talk with your healthcare provider and connect with your state tobacco quitline (1-800-QUIT-NOW) for help.
The quit-smoking medicines talked about on this website are approved by the FDA for adults to use to quit cigarettes. If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or younger than 18, you should not use these medicines without talking to your doctor. If you use tobacco products other than cigarettes (like cigars, chew, snuff, hookah, or e-cigarettes), talk to your doctor or other healthcare provider or call the quitline (1-800-QUIT-NOW) to get help with quitting. All the ways to use medicines presented here are reviewed in Smoking Cessation: A Report of the Surgeon General (Chapter 6) [PDF-1.8 MB]. Some of the ways have not been evaluated or approved by the FDA.