Archive for the ‘People's Pharmacy’ Category

Do you get sleepy behind the wheel?

Q: I sleep well at night, wake up refreshed and energetic, and rarely feel tired or take naps. But when I drive for an hour or more, I become so sleepy that I have to pull over and take a 45-minute nap or risk crashing.

After I wake up, I’m alert and good to go. My mother and brother have the same problem; we call it “auto-narcolepsy” because the only time it happens is in the car (whether I’m a driver or a passenger).

Long road trips can make drivers sleepy, leading to accidents. Photo by Glenn Koenig/Los Angeles Times/MCT

Long road trips can make drivers sleepy, leading to accidents. Photo by Glenn Koenig/Los Angeles Times/MCT

A: You are certainly not alone. Others also have reported that driving or riding in the car makes them sleepy. We recently heard from a long-distance truck driver that eating sunflower seeds helps him stay alert on 12-hour trips. The mental concentration needed to crack the shell, extract the seed and spit out the residue seems to be enough to maintain alertness. It may also help that the seeds are rich in fat and protein rather than rapidly absorbed …

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People’s Pharmacy: Can tonic water cause hearing loss?

Q: I drink tonic water all the time. (Really it is half tonic water and half regular water to help with the cramps I get in my legs.) A friend told me the other day that tonic water has been linked to hearing loss. Is that true?

A: Tonic water contains quinine, which is why it seems to help with leg cramps.

Quinine also has been known to cause hearing loss and ringing in the ears.

The dose you are getting is extremely low, however, so it is not clear that this would be a danger. Tonic water can contain no more than 83 milligrams of quinine per liter in the United States.

Because you are diluting your tonic water, you aren’t getting very much quinine.

Concerns about quinine toxicity (irregular heart rhythms, blood disorders and severe allergy) led the Food and Drug Administration to forbid its use for preventing leg cramps. When doctors prescribed quinine for this purpose, the dose was 200 to 300 mg a night.

Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist, and Teresa Graedon is an …

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People’s Pharmacy: Can vitamin B-6 be dangerous?

Q: Last October, I started having neurological symptoms. My hands were falling asleep every night with pins and needles. The symptoms got worse, and I developed pain in my neck, upper back and arms. Sometimes my feet would fall asleep as well.

I saw my family doctor, a neurologist, an orthopedist and a physiatrist. I had my blood tested for B-12 deficiency, diabetes and thyroid problems. I had an MRI that showed some disk deterioration and arthritis in my neck.

Despite physical therapy and muscle relaxants, my symptoms fluctuated. No one thought to suggest vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine) toxicity. I was taking a multivitamin with 150 percent of the RDA for this vitamin.

Finally, I Googled my symptoms and thought perhaps I might have too much B-6 in my system. A blood test showed I had twice the upper limit of normal.

I stopped taking the supplement, and within four weeks my symptoms were 95 percent improved! Apparently, some people do not process this vitamin the way others do, …

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People’s Pharmacy: Have eggs been given a bad rap?

Q: I gave up eating eggs years ago due to high cholesterol. I have been eating only egg substitutes. I recently heard that eating eggs doesn’t really raise cholesterol. If this is true, I would love to go back to eating real eggs again.

CHRIS HUNT / AJC Special

CHRIS HUNT / AJC Special

A: For decades, dietary dogma has kept many people from eating eggs. Because yolks are rich in cholesterol, some scientists assumed that eating whole eggs would raise blood cholesterol and increase the risk for heart disease.

This assumption was accepted without evidence.

When investigators looked at the data, they found that eating up to one egg daily had little impact on stroke or heart-disease risk (Journal of the American Medical Association, April 21, 1999).

There is even an experiment showing that egg consumption is linked to higher levels of good HDL cholesterol and markers of improved retinal health in the eye (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, November 2009).

People vary in their response to eggs, …

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People’s Pharmacy: Lemonade therapy for kidney stones?

Q: The other day, someone wrote asking about kidney stones. To cut down on kidney stones, I drink several glasses of lemonade a week.

Chris Hunt/AJC Special

Chris Hunt/AJC Special

A: There is some scientific basis for your observation. Doctors often prescribe potassium citrate to disrupt kidney-stone formation.

Lemonade also contains citrate, and some research shows that lemonade therapy reduces the rate of kidney-stone formation (Journal of Urology, April 2007).

Three or four glasses of lemonade per week are probably not enough to do much good, however. Studies of “lemonade therapy” have used one to two quarts of unsweetened or low-sugar lemonade daily.

Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist, and Teresa Graedon is an expert in medical anthropology and nutrition. In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. 
E-mail them via their 
Web site: www.peoples
pharmacy.com. They can be reached at peoplespharmacy
@gmail.com.

Become a fan of AJC Health Care on Facebook and follow …

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People’s Pharmacy: How can leg cramps be prevented?

Q: What can I do to halt or prevent leg cramps?

A: We have collected dozens of remedies through the years to prevent or stop such cramps. They include low-sodium V8 juice for extra potassium (an alternative to eating more bananas), a glass of tonic water at bedtime, a teaspoon of yellow mustard, vitamin and mineral supplements or a bar of soap under the bottom sheet.

Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist, and Teresa Graedon is an expert in medical anthropology and nutrition. In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. 
E-mail them via their 
Web site: www.peoples
pharmacy.com. They can be reached at peoplespharmacy
@gmail.com.

Become a fan of AJC Health Care on Facebook and follow ajchealthcare on Twitter for more health care news and health advice.

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People’s Pharmacy: Try these pill-swallowing tricks

Q: During a recent stay in the hospital, while swallowing pills I mentioned to the nurse that I had a dread of having a large pill getting stuck in my throat. She explained that the right way to swallow is to lower your chin down toward your chest. That position opens up the esophagus and allows the pill to slide down smoothly. It worked!

large-pill

A: We have collected several pill-swallowing tricks through the years. The one you describe helps most, but not all, people with a pill-swallowing problem.

Another trick is to take the pill with bottled sparkling water, drinking from the bottle. Sucking at the narrow neck of the bottle helps the pill go down more easily. Some people report that popping the pill in the mouth and then sipping water through a straw helps avoid the gag reflex.

If the pharmacist says it is OK to take the pill with food, a spoonful of applesauce or yogurt also may help the medicine go down. It is important to make sure that pills do not get stuck in the throat, …

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People’s Pharmacy: Use lemon juice as deodorant?

Q: When I was growing up, my mother suggested I apply lemon juice under my arms at least once a week while I was taking a shower to avoid using deodorant. So I did. I rubbed my armpit with half of the lemon and left the juice on for about five minutes while I washed. Before I ended my shower, I applied soap and water to remove the lemon juice.

Kimberly Smith/AJC Special

Kimberly Smith/AJC Special

I have never used deodorant and have never needed it.

A: Thanks for an unusual suggestion. We caution others that lemon juice should not be applied to abraded skin or scratches, so do not put it on right after shaving armpits. It could sting like crazy!

Editor’s note: Milk of Magnesia is also recommended by readers.

Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist, and Teresa Graedon is an expert in medical anthropology and nutrition. In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. 
E-mail them via their 
Web site: www.peoples
pharmacy.com. They can be reached at peoplespharmacy
@gmail.com.

Become a fan …

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PEOPLE’S PHARMACY: Unique cure for nosebleeds

Q: I learned a procedure to stop nosebleeds. Determine which nostril is bleeding, remove the shoe from the opposite foot and, with the heel of your hand, give two good thumps to the heel of that bare foot. I have used this tactic many times, in the gym, on field trips, at Little League and even on my wife sitting in the car. My question is, Why does this work?

Nosebleeds can be frightening, especially to children. Photo by JESSICA MCGOWAN/AJC SPECIAL

Nosebleeds can be frightening, especially to children. Photo by JESSICA MCGOWAN/AJC SPECIAL

A: We wish we could tell you. It makes about as much sense to us as dropping keys down the back of the neck to stop a nosebleed. Many readers have shared success stories with that technique. Even though we can’t explain either approach, it will be obvious within seconds whether it has worked.
Drugstore alternatives include Nosebleed QR, NasalCEASE and Seal-On.

Editor’s note: Vaseline may help nose bleeds, but can carry serious health risks.

Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist, and Teresa Graedon is an expert in medical …

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PEOPLE’S PHARMACY: Unique alcoholism treatment doesn’t focus on abstinence

Q: Is there any way to make passing a kidney stone less painful? I went from uncomfortable to unbearable pain within a couple of hours.

The emergency room doctors gave me narcotic pain relievers, but nothing to speed the stone out. If this ever happens again, I’d like something to help move the stone along.

A: If surgery is not necessary to remove the stone, there is one treatment that may be helpful. The same drug that is used to ease symptoms of prostate enlargement, Flomax (tamsulosin), may facilitate passage of kidney stones. Shock-wave treatment (lithotripsy) is sometimes used to break kidney stones into smaller pieces. Flomax has been used in combination with lithotripsy to help smaller stones move.

Could the key to battling alcoholism successfully be to not require abstinence from alcohol? Photo by LOUIE FAVORITE/AJC Special.

Could the key to battling alcoholism successfully be to not require abstinence from alcohol? Photo by LOUIE FAVORITE/AJC Special.

Q: I am a 62-year-old with a history of drinking six to eight alcoholic drinks a day for the past 30 years. I have no desire to stop …

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