People's Pharmacy



I have been using a nasal spray (such as Afrin) for at least six years. I cannot break this cycle of congestion. If I don't use the spray, I can't sleep and can't eat.

My doctor prescribed a steroid nasal spray, but it wasn't enough. If you have any helpful suggestions for breaking my addiction, I would be grateful.

Others who have gone through a similar predicament have come up with some suggestions that might be worth trying. Here's one:

Buy two bottles of nasal spray. Use one full-strength in one nostril. In the other nostril use a progressively diluted spray. Begin by adding a small amount of saline solution (Ayr Saline, Breathe Free or Ocean) and gradually increase the proportion of salt water to nasal spray. When you are using pure saline in that nostril, you can begin to follow the same process for the other one. This allows for a gentle withdrawal that should not interfere with your sleep. Keep using the steroid spray your doctor prescribed to ease the discomfort until you have kicked your habit.

I have had numbness in both legs from the knees down for four years. I notified my cardiologist several times, and he referred me to a neurologist. When I saw the neurologist, he found nothing conclusive.

I have been taking statin drugs to lower my cholesterol for many years. I have the impression that this problem may be related to the statins, but I can't let my cholesterol get too high. What alternatives do I have?

Statin-type drugs such as Crestor, Lipitor, Pravachol and Zocor are effective for lowering cholesterol, but some people experience nerve damage. Peripheral neuropathy is considered a rare side effect of statins (American Journal of Cardiology, Supplement 1, Apr. 17, 2006). Symptoms may include numbness as well as sensations of prickling, tingling or burning in the extremities.

There are other medications that can lower cholesterol. They include niacin, WelChol, Tricor and Zetia.

In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Write to them in care of this newspaper or e-mail them via their Web site:

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