A sweet cure for wounds


December 06, 2007|By Joe Graedon and Teresa Graedon

I want to thank you for the "sugar cure" column. I had a toe amputated more than a year ago and it still is not healed. I read your column about using sugar for wound healing and asked the doctor about it.

She said: "Nothing else is helping, so go for it. It couldn't hurt." I mixed the sugar into Polysporin and applied it on a Friday afternoon, and by Monday afternoon the improvement was very noticeable. At my next appointment, the doctor was very impressed.

We first found this old-fashioned approach in medical literature two decades ago (Southern Medical Journal, November 1981). There has been little research on it since then, but research in Africa suggests that both honey and sugar may be helpful (Journal of Wound Care, July 2007). Medical supervision is essential whenever difficult wounds are treated.

In your column, you said that warm water is no more effective than cold for removing germs. You are way off the mark.

We wash to remove germs, not kill them. Dirty hands are oily, and oils are more soluble in warm water. So is soap. Warm water works faster and is more effective than cold water for rinsing off germs. Even my third-grader knows better than you.

Several other readers also took us to task for suggesting that warm water is no more effective than cold for removing germs. To try to get a more objective answer, we checked with Charles Gerba, Ph.D., professor of environmental microbiology at the University of Arizona. He is one of the country's leading researchers on germ contamination.

Gerba told us that he has "not seen studies comparing hot versus cold water for hand-washing. Warm water might be somewhat more effective, but the difference is probably so small as not to make much difference. Washing is too quick for the heating to kill much or the soap to dissolve better."

To wash hands well, wet the hands, apply soap and rub the hands together vigorously for 15 to 20 seconds. Then rinse the lather off thoroughly.

I was interested in the column about a person who developed a cough while taking lisinopril. I was put on this medicine for high blood pressure and immediately began having violent coughing spells.

Nothing worked, no cough syrup or cough drops. My doctor put me on different medicines but never took me off lisinopril.

Then I went to a new doctor, who immediately switched me from lisinopril to Benicar. The coughing stopped immediately.

Not everyone develops a bad cough while on an ACE inhibitor like lisinopril for high blood pressure. But you certainly are not alone.

Another reader wrote: "My doctor was pleased with the results of the ACE inhibitor, but my cough became so frequent and violent that I could not sleep for weeks. I couldn't even lie in bed. When coughing, I would involuntarily empty my bladder, so I could barely leave the house. We eventually found another medication (Benicar) that I do not react to, and my blood pressure is even lower than when I was on the ACE inhibitor."

Recently on two separate prime-time TV shows, I heard the person playing the parent of a young child suggest giving the youngster a baby aspirin. It has been some time since I worked as a pediatric nurse, so maybe things have changed. We never gave aspirin to children due to its connection with Reye's syndrome.

You are absolutely correct. When children or even teenagers take aspirin for chickenpox or flu, they run an increased risk of Reye's syndrome, a rare but potentially deadly condition. Parents should not give children aspirin for fevers.

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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