JOE AND TERESA GRAEDON

Joe and Teresa Graedon

Q: My doctor told me to stop taking baby aspirin daily to prevent heart disease. Years ago, I heard a recommendation to take aspirin while waiting for the ambulance if you felt you were having a heart attack or stroke. Is that still legitimate advice?

Answer: Anyone who suspects he or she is having a heart attack should call 911 immediately. Although there is controversy about aspirin as a daily preventive measure, the advice to chew an aspirin tablet while awaiting the ambulance still seems valid (Western Journal of Emergency Medicine, December 2015; Emergency Medicine Journal, November 2015).

Anyone who suspects a stroke, however, should avoid taking aspirin. In such a situation, it could make a bleeding stroke worse. Emergency physicians will determine the type of stroke before deciding on the appropriate treatment.

Q: I’ve accidentally found an amazing way to get off of acid-suppressing drugs without having rebound reflux. I’ve been taking heartburn medicines for decades, ever since cimetidine first came out. Later I started taking omeprazole or esomeprazole. Whenever I tried stopping these drugs, I got horrible heartburn.

This time, I discovered by accident how to get off them. I’ve been trying to lose weight, so I’ve gone low-carb. I eat just one meal a day because I’ve heard that intermittent fasting is helpful.

A week ago, I decided to try once again not taking daily medication to control my incessant heartburn. I stocked up on Tums and other antacids because I knew I would be in trouble once I stopped. Then I took my last omeprazole and waited for the flames to appear in my chest.

About 15 hours passed, and I started to feel a little heartburn coming. I took a Tums and waited for the next round. I’m still waiting. It’s now a week later, and I’ve not had any heartburn. I should be in agony, but I’m completely heartburn-free. I feel like singing!

I hope this helps others who were addicted to PPIs. The solution is: Eat one meal a day and fast for 23 hours before you eat again. Stick to low carbs and water.

Answer: Research supports your accidental discovery. A very low-carbohydrate diet has been shown to help control symptoms of acid reflux (Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics, November 2016; Digestive Diseases and Sciences August 2006).

We were not able to find research demonstrating that intermittent fasting is helpful for heartburn. We offer several other nondrug approaches for getting off strong acid-suppressing drugs in our Guide to Digestive Disorders. It is available at www.PeoplesPharmacy.com.

Q: How do drug companies come up with such unpronounceable names for their new drugs? Most of the names don’t seem to be related to the use of the product. Many are advertised on TV and lack any kind of memorable moniker. It’s like having to learn another language.

Older drugs do have memorable and pronounceable names. They are short, like Motrin or Advil, something English speakers can relate to. Is there a formula that drug companies use for branding a new product?

Answer: Branding is a mysterious process. You are right that drug companies used to try to match the name to the condition. Think about sedatives and sleeping pills. Restoril sends a message of restfulness. Tranxene offered tranquility, and Halcion references “halcyon,” a fancy word for a peaceful time.

Now, brands such as Otezla (for psoriasis), Xeljanz (for ulcerative colitis) or Xarelto (for blood clot prevention) sound like they come from outer space. We don’t know why X’s and Z’s are so popular.

Q: Sometimes people write to you about nasal congestion at night. This happened frequently to me until I started using SnoreCare nasal vents. These really open my nasal passages, and I no longer feel congested. I hope you will pass this hint along.

Answer: It comes as no surprise that nasal congestion could interfere with nighttime breathing (European Archives of Oto-Rhino-Laryngology, September 2011). Doctors generally prescribe steroid nasal sprays such as Flonase or a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine for such problems. However, nasal vents or nasal strips such as Breathe Right can improve nasal breathing (Pulmonary Medicine, Dec. 13, 2016).

King Features Syndicate

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Questions for Joe and Teresa Graedon can be emailed via their website: www.Peoples Pharmacy.com.

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