Aspirin, acetaminophen might bring on or aggravate asthma problems

People's Pharmacy

Health & Fitness

May 16, 2004|By Joe Graedon and Teresa Graedon | Joe Graedon and Teresa Graedon,King Features Syndicate

My doctor has told me to avoid aspirin, because it makes my asthma worse. Is Tylenol safe for headaches?

While aspirin may aggravate asthma, it is not clear whether acetaminophen (Tylenol) poses a similar problem.

Recent research suggests that acetaminophen may increase the risk of coming down with asthma, though. A study in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine last month notes that women who took acetaminophen for more than two weeks a month were 63 percent more likely to develop asthma.

What illness or infection, if any, can a person get from sitting on a toilet seat?

Conventional medical wisdom maintains that you can't catch an infection from sitting on a toilet seat. Intact skin is a good barrier against germs. One study found that toilet seats were less contaminated with bacteria than were kitchen sinks, sponges and faucet handles.

The best way to protect yourself from infection is to wash your hands thoroughly after using the toilet. Then use a paper towel to dry your hands, to turn off the spigot and to open the door.

When I check my blood pressure at home after work, the systolic pressure is usually in the 140s to 150s and sometimes above, while the diastolic pressure is usually in the low 80s.

When the doctor takes my pressure (usually after I wait in his office at least half an hour with elevator music), the pressure is in the mid-130s and upper 70s, and the doctor is pleased.

Which measurement is more important, the higher daily pressure or the reading when I'm totally relaxed in the doctor's office?

You are unusual in that your blood pressure is lower in the doctor's office.

Many people experience mild anxiety when a nurse or doctor measures it. The resulting elevated blood pressure is called "white coat hypertension."

Doctors now believe that daily home readings might be more representative of overall blood pressure. But it is important to make sure you are measuring accurately. Your arm must be resting comfortably at heart level, and the cuff needs to be the right size for your arm.

Make sure you calibrate your machine with your doctor's device so you know they are in agreement.

Years ago my daughter had eight plantar warts on the bottoms of her feet. She could hardly walk, and I tried everything to get rid of them, but to no avail.

Then a friend of mine suggested squeezing fresh lemon juice on them three or four times a day. We had nothing to lose, so we tried it. Those warts turned black and fell off so fast she was healed within four weeks. I hope this will help others.

Thanks for the fascinating suggestion. Here's another story: "We dealt with plantar warts in every way possible -- surgery and freezing -- plus the terrible pain that goes along with these treatments.

"My husband's golf partner gave us the best information that I had ever heard: iodine. I painted my grandson's plantar wart with iodine morning and night for six weeks. It went away, with no pain, just patience. The cost was less than $2, compared with hundreds I spent on my other children."

I have been with my partner for 10 years, and we are finally talking marriage. But we just found out he has herpes.

He swears he has not been with anyone but me in our 10 years, but isn't this a sexually transmitted disease? He claims the doctor said he could have gotten it a long time ago. This doesn't make sense to me.

I am really upset. He used the medicine, and the blisters are gone, but I'm still afraid to have sex with him. I could catch herpes, couldn't I?

Your partner could well be telling the truth. Herpes can remain dormant for many years and emerge decades later.

There are effective anti-viral medications that can prevent outbreaks. Nevertheless, your partner should use condoms to avoid passing the virus to you.

Does Tums react with any medicines? I take Tums for calcium. Sometimes I take it together with other drugs.

Calcium carbonate in Tums can interfere with the absorption of antibiotics such as tetracycline or ciprofloxacin (Cipro). The thyroid supplement levothyroxine (Synthroid, Levothroid, Levoxyl) is also affected by calcium. None of these compounds should be taken within two hours of Tums.

In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 888 Seventh Ave., New York, NY 10019, or e-mail them via their Web site, www.peoplespharmacy. org.

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