Test teen for signs of thyroid problems


December 13, 2007|By Joe and Teresa Graedon

I have just begun treatment for hypothyroidism, and for the first time in more than 20 years I feel like I am emerging from a fog. My mental clarity and concentration were terrible.

Since starting on Synthroid, I feel like a new person. My question is about my daughter. She is 17 and has some of the same symptoms. Is she too young to have her thyroid tested?

Thyroid problems can run in families, so it makes sense to have her thyroid function checked. Depression has many causes and is not always recognized as a symptom of insufficient thyroid hormone.

Lack of concentration and even clumsiness can be symptoms of thyroid disorder, along with more classic symptoms such as fatigue, constipation, hair loss, weight gain and cold intolerance.

I recently read your answer to the person with smelly feet. I'd like to tell you what worked for me. I was a waitress and had to wear solid shoes and nylons for long hours. My feet ached and smelled so bad, I couldn't stand them. I tried everything. Finally, Campho-Phenique worked wonders. It may help someone else.

Campho-Phenique contains camphor and phenol as main ingredients along with eucalyptus oil. It is primarily used for relieving minor skin irritations, cuts, scrapes and insect bites. Perhaps the antibacterial and antifungal nature of these old-fashioned ingredients helped clear up a lingering infection responsible for foot odor.

I have tried many statin drugs for high cholesterol but had muscle pain with all of them. Two years ago my doctor prescribed cholestyramine. It is in powder form, and I take one packet a day in juice or water. It is terrific and has lowered my cholesterol with no muscle pain.

Cholestyramine was a common prescription drug for high cholesterol long before the statins were invented. It binds to bile acids in the digestive tract, which leads to lowering of cholesterol. Side effects may include constipation, flatulence and digestive upset.

Has anything shown that fish oil is effective in reducing chronic diarrhea? It worked instantly for me, although I started taking it for heart health. The results were startling - no more runs or trots.

The only research we could find on this question was in rats (Digestive Diseases and Sciences, June 2007). The scientists gave the rats a drug that caused chronic diarrhea, and the fish oil sped intestinal repair and recovery. We don't know if this will work for anyone else, but fish oil certainly has enough health benefits to be worth a try.

A lot of my friends are vegetarians. That means social gatherings are heavy on beans, hummus, broccoli and other foods that cause me a great deal of gas. I suffer afterward.

Take along Beano. The enzyme can help break down the complex carbohydrates in beans and other vegetables that contribute to gas. You may also want to take Angostura bitters and put a few drops in your drinking water. This is an old-fashioned remedy for flatulence.

Other options include fennel seed tea or ginger.

I have been using milk of magnesia on my face for the past two months since reading it in your column. My face flakes are gone. I pour it in my hand and massage it on my face while showering. Then I rinse it off. It's a great, cost-effective alternative to expensive Nizoral, and it works better, too.

A reader told us that a doctor suggested a topical mixture of milk of magnesia and Lotrimin AF for seborrheic dermatitis. This skin condition causes itching, flaking, scales or redness on the scalp or on the face around the eyebrows, forehead, nose and chin.

I read your article on suppressing sex drive in men. Are the same options effective for women?

Many prescription drugs lower libido as a side effect. Antidepressants such as Prozac or Zoloft can do this, but such medications carry other risks.

The hormone progesterone is notorious for reducing sexual desire, but it, too, has numerous side effects including blood clots, breast tenderness, headaches, dizziness and depression. One alternative is chaste tree berry extract (Vitex agnus-castus). This herb has mild progesterone-like effects and is reputed to reduce libido. There is no clinical research to support this claim, however.

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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