Years of bad breath fade away after stomach germ is treated

People's Pharmacy

July 16, 1996|By Joe Graedon and Teresa Graedon | Joe Graedon and Teresa Graedon,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

I want to thank you because your article on a potential cause of bad breath has solved a long-standing problem of mine. No doctor was able to tell me why I had halitosis, and standard tests were not useful.

When I read in your column about a blood test for a germ in the stomach that causes ulcers, bad breath and gastritis, I checked with my doctor. He had never heard of this condition but he gave me the blood test and was surprised when it turned up positive. He was so interested in Helicobacter pylori that he told other doctors about it. He prescribed antibiotics to kill it.

Now I am fine after years of bad breath.

Why aren't doctors more aware of this infection that causes ulcers and other problems?

Bad breath can be a terrible torment, especially if it persists. There are many factors that may contribute, including tooth decay or gum disease. Medical conditions such as diabetes, liver disease or kidney failure can also create chronic halitosis.

Dr. Barry Marshall, a Virginia gastroenterologist who is one of the world's leading experts on Helicobacter pylori, believes that this bacterium is responsible for a large proportion of stomach ulcers.

He also believes this bug could account for many cases of hard-to-treat bad breath.

The germ theory of ulcers has been around for more than a decade but has only recently gained widespread acceptance. We are sending you our "Guide to Digestive Disorders," which you may want to share with your doctor. It discusses the latest antibiotic therapies and their potential side effects.

Anyone who would like a copy should send $2 with a long (No.10), stamped, self-addressed envelope to Graedons' People's Pharmacy, No. G-789, P.O. Box 52027, Durham, N.C. 27717-2027.

We don't know if treating H. pylori will help others overcome bad breath, but we appreciate hearing about your success.

Last year, after I had chest pain while on the tennis court, my doctor diagnosed high blood pressure and angina.

I now take several medications, including nitroglycerin, for chest pain, Toprol XL for blood pressure and Lescol to lower cholesterol. In addition, I take ibuprofen for arthritis and aspirin to thin my blood.

When I saw my doctor recently he said my blood pressure was still too high and I would need an additional medicine, Norvasc.

Does this seem to be a bit of overmedication?

Do any of these pills counteract each other?

Beta blocker blood pressure medication such as metoprolol (Lopressor, Toprol XL), propranolol (Inderal) and atenolol (Tenormin) may be blunted by arthritis drugs such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, etc), ketoprofen (Actron, Orudis KT) and naproxen (Aleve). Even aspirin may diminish the effectiveness of such blood pressure pills, while Tylenlol (acetominophen) does not have this effect.

Please do not discontinue your aspirin, however, as it can prevent heart attacks and strokes caused by blood clots. Ask your doctor to reassess your blood pressure treatment in light of this interaction.

For more information on how medications may counteract each other, you may wish to consult our new book, "The People's Guide to Deadly Drug Interactions" (St. Martin's Press).

Which athlete's foot remedy works best? There are so many different brands, I am confused.

Regular use of any antifungal product should work. Ingredients such as miconazole, clotrimazole, and tolnaftate are all very effective.

I have read that the federal bureaucracy raised the RDA for vitamin C to 200 milligrams. Big deal. I take 500 milligrams twice ++ a day. At least the feds are moving in the right direction. What do you think?

It's true that researchers at the National Institutes of Health recently recommended that vitamin C intake go to 200 milligrams daily. This is an increase from the previous RDA of 60 milligrams. While the smaller amount of vitamin C is adequate to prevent scurvy, 200 milligrams is believed more appropriate for optimal health.

We are expecting that recommendations will change even more as further research findings become available.

Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist. Dr. Teresa Graedon is a medical anthropologist and nutrition expert.

Pub Date: 7/16/96

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