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The People’s Pharmacy

Joe and Teresa Graedon

Q. Years ago, I used to wake up every morning with “face aches,” aka sinus pain. I went to many different doctors, all of whom prescribed antibiotics for a sinus infection. Then I became allergic to these drugs. An article I read said that many sinus issues are caused by an allergy to the milk protein casein. As an experiment, I stopped drinking milk and never had face aches again. I use unsweetened almond milk for my morning oatmeal, and all is well.

A. The role of milk protein allergy in causing sinus inflammation is controversial. Allergies sometimes can cause nasal congestion as well as hives, rash or swelling. Some research has linked cow’s milk protein allergy to ear, nose and throat problems in young children (Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, August 2012). There has been little if any research on whether this also holds for adults. We don’t see any trouble in avoiding cow’s milk if you find it makes you feel better.

Antibiotics are often over-prescribed for sinus congestion. A review of research in the New England Journal of Medicine (Sept. 8, 2016) concluded that antibiotics are rarely helpful for acute sinusitis.

Q. I started taking Contrave two weeks ago. I was so desperate to lose weight that I spent a lot for it instead of forking out that much for a month of prepared meals. Huge mistake. I have had terrible side effects, especially at night. I find myself eating more than usual because I’m constantly trying to fight nausea by keeping something in my stomach. I also have no energy to exercise. It takes a while for most people’s bodies to get used to a new med. Although I consider myself pretty tough, I am going to actually throw in the towel and stop instead of increasing the dose tomorrow as prescribed. It’s time for me to listen to my body.

A. Contrave contains two different medications: the antidepressant bupropion and the opioid blocker naltrexone. Bupropion (Zyban) has Food and Drug Administration approval to help people quit smoking. Naltrexone (Revia) is approved for alcohol dependence. The combination has the FDA’s blessing for weight loss.

How good is Contrave for weight loss? In one clinical trial, subjects on the drug shed about 8 pounds more than people taking placebos. That was after six months. Side effects can include digestive distress, headache, dizziness, insomnia, sweating, dry mouth, anxiety, hot flashes, tremor and confusion.

Q. I got a huge splinter in the end of my big toe. I couldn’t get it out and neither could my PA or her nurse. On the recommendation of a friend who is also a nurse, I put duct tape around the toe. The next morning when I took the tape off, there was the hunk of wood stuck to the tape. I am seriously grateful for the tip and want to share it with your readers.

A. Using a needle or a tweezer to get a splinter out of your skin can be tricky. What’s more, it’s often painful. After a time or two, children become unwilling to submit to this kind of first aid.

In addition to duct tape, we have heard about using a salicylic acid plaster of the sort sold for warts. After a day or two, the splinter works its way to the surface, according to an article in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology (4/89).

White glue is another splinter-removal tactic. The trick is to let the glue dry over the splinter. Then pull it off in the opposite direction the splinter took going in.

The Graedons’ goal is to empower readers to become active participants in their own healthcare by writing about alternative medicine, home remedies and herbal treatments. In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Write to them in care of King Features, 628 Virginia Drive, Orlando, FL 32803, or email them via their website: www.PeoplesPharmacy.com. (c) 2019 King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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