Tell doctor about ice cravings

PEOPLE'S PHARMACY

August 21, 2008|By Joe Graedon and Teresa Graedon

In 2001, I had a very strong urge to chew on ice. After reading in your column that this could be a sign of anemia, I told my doctor about it. The blood work showed anemia, and I was advised to get a colonoscopy. This test showed cancer in the colon. I had surgery and received six months of chemo. The operation removed 10 inches of my colon. Testing the lymph nodes showed that the cancer had spread to three out of 15 tested. I wouldn't have mentioned the craving for ice cubes had I not read about it in your column. I thank you for that timely article. I have been cancer-free for these past seven years.

Unexplained cravings for ice, laundry starch, cornstarch or other peculiar substances often signal a deficiency of iron or zinc and should be investigated. We are pleased your doctor took your anemia seriously and looked for the cause. The colonoscopy and subsequent treatment of the cancer may have saved your life.

My husband took Flomax for a prostate problem. Recently, he needed cataract surgery. Who knew that Flomax would cause complications? Not only was the surgery very painful, but I have heard that some surgeons won't operate on a man who has taken Flomax. It has been three weeks since the surgery, and he still cannot see very well. The doctor said it would be at least five or six weeks before he can judge the success of the cataract procedure. Please alert other men to this problem.

Flomax (tamsulosin) relieves prostate problems by helping smooth muscle relax and improving urine flow. In 2005, ophthalmologists reported that patients taking Flomax sometimes developed a complication known as small pupil or intraoperative floppy iris syndrome (IFIS) during cataract surgery. It appears to be caused by excessive smooth-muscle relaxation in the iris itself in reaction to Flomax.

In some cases, men were taking Flomax at the time of surgery, but in at least one documented case the man had stopped the drug a year before his cataract operation. Forestalling this complication requires special equipment and surgical techniques. Cataract surgeons should always be notified that a patient has taken Flomax so they can plan accordingly.

My husband takes hydrochlorothiazide and lisinopril for high blood pressure. I suspect that these medicines are responsible for his dizziness and erectile dysfunction. His blood sugar also is up. Could the medicine be responsible? Are there any natural remedies that might help lower blood pressure? I have heard that beet juice might be helpful.

Diuretics like hydrochlorothiazide (HCTZ) can cause dizziness and raise blood sugar. Erectile dysfunction is a fairly common side effect of both hypertension and the medicines used to treat it.

A low-sodium, high-vegetable diet (the DASH diet) has been shown to help control blood pressure. Drinking beet juice also may help.

Soy sauce for burns really works! I was changing the air filter in my car and my metal watchband accidentally arced across a battery terminal. I got a severe burn in the shape of my watchband at the point of contact. I remembered the recommendation of soy sauce for burns. I slowly poured it on the burn for about a minute and had no pain then or afterward. I went back and finished my project.

We always suggest putting cold water on a burn first. Soy sauce thereafter can help ease the pain from a burn, as you discovered. Severe burns require immediate medical attention.

My friend, my daughter-in-law and I have been able to stop all our prescription nasal sprays and inhalers for sinus problems and allergies since using a neti pot daily! I get bronchitis easily, but I have been cough-free for two months since I began rinsing my sinuses nightly with a mixture of 1 cup of warm water and 1/4 teaspoon of plain salt.

The neti pot looks a bit like an Aladdin's lamp. It is a traditional technology for nasal irrigation to cleanse the nasal passages and sinuses. Ayurvedic medicine has used neti pots for regular nasal cleansing for hundreds of years.

In using a neti pot, the head is tipped forward and slightly to the side so that water can be poured into one nostril and allowed to run out the other. Nasal irrigation may also be accomplished with spray equipment from the drugstore. A small study in the Wisconsin Medical Journal (April 2008) suggests that many people with chronic sinus symptoms get benefit from daily nasal irrigation.

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