People's Pharmacy

May 04, 2007|By Joe Graedon and Teresa Graedon | Joe Graedon and Teresa Graedon,PeoplesPharmacy.com

My granddaughter is 10 years old, and she still wears diapers to bed every night. Can you give me some advice on how we can get her up to go to the bathroom? I remember years ago discussion of an electrical device that sounded an alarm to wake the child. Do these devices still exist?

If there is no underlying medical problem, a bed-wetting alarm is a good treatment. At first the alarm may wake everyone in the house except the sleeping bed-wetter. Waking the child and getting her to the bathroom to finish urinating should address the problem within a month or two. Devices such as SleepDry or Wet-Stop2 cost $50 to $75.

I suffered for years with stomach ulcers and had to be hospitalized when they turned into bleeding ulcers.

I was finally diagnosed with a Helicobacter pylori infection and treated with a combination of antibiotics and Pepto-Bismol. This worked for me, and I haven't had any stomach problems since.

I would love to thank the doctors who made the discovery about H. pylori causing ulcers. If you have their names and addresses, please let me know.

Dr. Barry Marshall and his colleague, pathologist Dr. J. Robin Warren, received the 2005 Nobel Prize for their discovery that a bacterium (Helicobacter pylori) causes stomach ulcers. The recognition that an infection could cause gastritis and ulcers was an enormous change from earlier theories, which blamed stress and spicy foods.

We are delighted that you got such benefit by treating the infection. You can e-mail your thanks to Marshall (bmarshall@hpylori.com.au) in Western Australia.

Recently, while shopping for two different over-the-counter products for two very different health issues, I discovered that they both contained exactly the same active ingredient. Benadryl has 25 milligrams of diphenhydramine. So do Nytol and Sominex.

The Benadryl package describes this ingredient as an antihistamine. Nytol and Sominex say it is a nighttime sleep aid.

The generic antihistamine costs about half as much as branded sleep aids. It does pay to read the labels.

It certainly does. The exact amount you can save might vary from one store to the next, but the house-brand generic diphenhydramine is much less expensive than brands that contain it. We found one house-brand antihistamine for about 3 cents per pill. A brand-name sleeping pill containing the same ingredient costs as much as 22 cents per pill. Because this antihistamine also can be used as a sleeping pill, it should not be taken before driving, operating machinery or performing other tasks that require alertness.

Could you talk about the benefits of various nuts? We know almonds and walnuts can lower cholesterol. Do pecans, macadamia nuts, Brazil nuts or hazelnuts offer anything besides calories?

Nearly all nuts have beneficial fatty acids, particularly monounsaturated fatty acids like those found in olive oil. In addition, walnuts contain some omega-3 fatty acids like those found in fish oil.

People who eat 5 ounces of nuts weekly are less susceptible to heart disease and type-2 diabetes. People who consume Brazil nuts get selenium, which can reduce the risk of osteoarthritis. Be careful with Brazil nuts, however. They are so rich in this mineral that eating more than three or four a day on a regular basis could result in selenium toxicity (which can cause hair loss, rash, nail problems and nerve damage).

My husband and I travel by car each year to Arizona for the winter and return home in the spring. The trip is difficult because I have irritable bowel syndrome and often have to find a bathroom. Is there anything I could take that would make our trip less stressful?

We don't have any magic bullets to offer you, but we have heard from several readers that a probiotic product called Digestive Advantage IBS was helpful. It contains live strains of lactobacillus bacteria.

Here is what one reader had to say: "For years I have suffered with nausea and gastritis. Antacids and other stomach medicines did not help. Then my doctor told me his daughter has the same problem. A product called Digestive Advantage IBS helps her. It is less than $10 at most drugstores. This product works fast, and I have been totally well for months."

When I get a canker sore, I apply the gel from an aloe vera leaf directly on the sore. I keep a plant all the time because it's so helpful.

Aloe vera gel has a long history for healing cuts and burns, though scientific data proving effectiveness are slim.

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: PeoplesPharmacy.com.

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