Nitroglycerin tablets could set off alarm at airport

People's Pharmacy

March 20, 2005|By Joe Graedon and Teresa Graedon | Joe Graedon and Teresa Graedon,King Features Syndicate

My mum lives in New Zealand and would love to visit us, but she is petrified that her nitroglycerin heart medicine will set off the security alarm. Is there any way to reassure her?

If her luggage is screened with a swab to detect explosives, residue from her nitroglycerin medicine might be detected. Nitrates in her medication are similar to those found in explosives. If she has her prescription and a note from her doctor with her, the Transportation Security Administration authorities shouldn't give her any grief. Nitroglycerin is a common heart medicine taken by millions.

The Internet pharmacy we have been using in Alberta has just notified us that their new health minister might stop the shipment of drugs from Canada to the United States. They suggest that they can still help us buy our medicines for less. They will act as middleman and obtain drugs from other countries like Australia, Israel, Chile and New Zealand.

We've had a good experience with this pharmacy, but we're not sure about buying our prescriptions all over the world. Do you have any advice?

Don't write off Canada just yet. Although there are signals that the government would like to shut down pharmacy sales to the United States, that decision has not yet been made. As a result, people like you can still order your prescription medicines online from Canada. Ordering from other countries might not provide the same high quality or safeguards that exist in Canada.

My granddaughter does not take medicine well. She is 2 and fights it hard, spitting out all she can. We have tried an oral syringe, but she still spits a lot out. Can we mix the medicine with juice and fool her into drinking it? It is an antibiotic.

Some antibiotics could be inactivated by juice, especially if the juice is calcium-fortified. Ask your pharmacist whether the medicine is susceptible to this reaction.

My husband gets severe cramps in his left leg. The pain goes from the calf to the top of his leg. Are there any remedies to stop these horrible cramps?

Many remedies can help stop leg cramps at times. Some readers find that a teaspoon of yellow mustard stops a muscle cramp quickly. Others prefer a quarter teaspoon of baking soda in a glass of water.

Another quick technique for easing the cramp is to stretch the muscle. Regular stretching before bed may prevent cramps. Putting a bar of soap under the bottom sheet, near the legs, is also said to prevent leg cramps. No one knows just why.

You told a reader that fennel tastes like licorice but has none of the dangers. I was not aware that licorice had any dangers. I read years ago that it's good for people with high blood pressure.

Licorice-root tea and candy made from real licorice may have medicinal properties. Licorice has been used traditionally to ease symptoms of cough, sore throat and indigestion. But too much of this herb can lead to fluid retention and high blood pressure, lowered sex drive or potassium loss. Pregnant women, people with high blood pressure and those with kidney problems should stay away from genuine licorice.

I read your column about not using Vicks inside the nose and assumed Mentholatum was OK to use. But the microscopic print on the side of the jar says not to use it in the nostrils. I have used Mentholatum to relieve dryness in my nose off and on my whole life. Have I done myself much harm?

Mentholatum, like Vicks VapoRub, has a petrolatum base. When there is petroleum jelly in the nose, small quantities can be inhaled into the lungs. With no way to get it out of the lungs, it may eventually build up and cause cough and shortness of breath.

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.

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