Types of steroids differ in benefits, risks

People's Pharmacy

April 17, 2005|By Joe Graedon and Teresa Graedon | Joe Graedon and Teresa Graedon,King Features Syndicate

I've been reading about athletes taking steroids. It confuses me that people think this is terrible. My doctor prescribes Flonase for my allergies. This is an inhaled steroid. What's the difference?

Some athletes have been abusing anabolic steroids. These are male hormones related to testosterone. Corticosteroids, like Flonase or prednisone, are related to cortisone, a natural anti-inflammatory compound. They are used to treat conditions such as asthma, allergy or arthritis. The benefits and risks of corticosteroids are completely different from those of anabolic steroids.

I had a terrible experience with naproxen (Aleve). I am healthy but have a touch of arthritis pain in the knee. I bought some Aleve and read the label. It said not to take it if you've had allergic reactions to any other pain reliever or if you take more than three alcohol drinks daily.

I am not allergic to anything and do not drink alcohol. But just one pill made me itch and break out in hives. My lips and face swelled and turned bright red, and I was too dizzy to stand. I hate to think what would have happened if I had taken two pills.

Allergic reactions like yours have been reported with Aleve and other pain relievers, but they are uncommon. You will need to avoid other drugs in this class, like aspirin and ibuprofen. Alert your doctor, since some prescription arthritis-pain medicines might also cause allergic reactions.

I'm 31 years old and dealing with anxiety and stress. My doctor put me on Paxil for this. Within three weeks, I felt better, but then I had a panic attack. I also lost weight. When I have panic attacks, I have an irregular heartbeat. I've started taking Saint-John's-wort and skullcap. Are there any other herbs to help with my panic attacks? I am desperate.

Do not take Saint-John's-wort together with Paxil. The combination could lead to a dangerous excess of serotonin. This can cause tremor, agitation, dizziness, high blood pressure and irregular heart rhythms. Tell your doctor. Ask if another treatment might be appropriate. Cognitive behavioral therapy can be effective.

Write to Joe and Teresa Graedon 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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