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Image 6 of The State Journal April 20, 2012

Part of The State Journal

Spectrum PAG E A6 T H E S TAT E J O U R N A L A p R i L 2 0 , 2 012 PeoPle’s Pharmacy Drug causes diarrhea from hell BY JOE GRAEDON AND TERESA GRAEDON, Ph.D. Bat h room f u nct ions make us uncomfortable, and as a result people tend to crack jokes about them. Euphemisms for diarrhea –the runs, the trots, Montezuma’s revenge or the squirts – tend to minimize digestive distress. Diarrhea, however, is no laughing matter. Far too often, diarrhea can be deadly. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 14,000 Americans die each year as a result of infection caused by Clostridium difficile (C. diff) bacteria. That’s only part of the story. More than 3 million people suffer from this infection every year, usually as a result of treatment for something else. And the problem has gotten worse. Hundreds of visitors to w w w.PeoplesPha r mac y. com have shared harrowing stories of developing hard-to-treat C. diff infections after taking antibiotics like clindamycin. Here is just one: “I was prescribed clindamycin for swollen gums. The prescription ran 10 days. “I had no problems for a week, but then I was in the bathroom with diarrhea that I have never experienced before in my life. This was diarrhea from hell! I was in and out of the bathroom every five minutes from 11:30 at night until 8:30 in the morning. There was just no stopping it. “I caught a few hours of sleep, but then the diarrhea was back. That first night, I remember going to the bathroom around 27 times, and that went on for about three weeks. I went to urgent care four times and have been out of work for about a month now. “At the first doctor visit, he thought it was just a stomach virus and it would pass. Wrong! A week later, I still had symptoms, so I went in again and ended up taking another week off. By the third week, when I went in for a stool sample, I tested positive for Clostridium difficile, also known as C. diff. This was a reaction to the clindamycin and caused all my digestive problems. “A month after I first took the clindamycin, I have been prescribed metronidazole. I feel better now and plan to go back to work in a day or two. In the course of this ordeal, I lost weight as well as became dehydrated. I advise others to get tested ASAP if you develop diarrhea after taking clindamycin. And don’t forget to wash your hands like a maniac!” It can be difficult to overcome C. diff infections. Medications like vancomycin and metronidazole work for some, but the diarrhea can come back after drug treatment. Some strains of C. diff have developed resistance to antibiotic treatment. Many readers report benefit from probiotics such as Florastor, which contains Saccharomyces boulardii to help re-establish the proper balance of bacteria within the bowel. In extreme cases, fecal transplants may be needed to recolonize the digestive tract with good bacteria. You can learn more on our website. Preventing this infection is paramount. The CDC recommends taking broadspectrum antibiotics only when absolutely necessary. Anyone who gets diarrhea after taking such drugs should notify the prescriber. Be especially vigilant after hospitalization or rehab. These facilities often are responsible for transferring C. diff from one patient to another. Insist that all health-care workers wash their hands thoroughly before and after a visit. And don’t forget to scrub your own hands after using the bathroom. Questions anD answers Purple remedy for yeast infections BY JOE GRAEDON AND TERESA GRAEDON, Ph.D. Q. I have been breastfeeding my baby for seven months and have suffered through recurring infections with Candida albicans. The antifungal pill fluconazole worked, but I needed a very high dose. That worries me. I’m interested in a more natural approach for this yeast infection. What are your thoughts on gentian violet? A. Gentian violet is an oldfashioned topical treatment for fungal infections like thrush (Candida). One reader offered this advice: “Lactation consultants often recommend gentian violet for mothers who have yeast infections on their nipples. We have the mother put a little olive oil on the baby’s lips and cheeks, paint her nipples with gentian violet and nurse the baby. The mother will have two purple nipples, and the baby will have a purple mouth.” Another reader wrote: “I have worked in women’s health for 40 years. Back in the early 1970s, the older doctors often painted women’s vaginas with gentian violet to treat persistent yeast infections. They always told the women to warn their husbands about the possibility of purple penises.” Q. I was given a prescription for lisinopril last year to lower my blood pressure. During the winter, I developed a constant, horrible dry cough that just wouldn’t go away. One day at work, I started coughing and couldn’t stop. It was so bad that the secretary called 911. Various doctors tested me for sleep apnea (negative), throat polyps (negative), allergies (none) and lung function (normal). I couldn’t quit coughing. On my own I dropped the lisinopril, and within a week my cough vanished. I am upset that I was put through so many expensive tests when the real problem was a common drug side effect. A. Hundreds of readers have reported a similar experience with ACE-inhibitor blood pressure drugs like benazepril, captopril, enalapril, lisinopril, quinapril and ramipril. Some have lost bowel and bladder control from coughing so hard. Because blood pressure control is essential to prevent heart attacks and strokes, we are sending you our Guide to Blood Pressure Treatment, which summarizes the pros and cons of medications and nondrug approaches. Anyone who would like a copy, please send $3 in check or money order with a long (No. 10), stamped (65 cents), self-addressed envelope to: Graedons’ People’s Pharmacy, No. B-67, P.O. Box 52027, Durham, NC 27717-2027. It also can be downloaded for $2 from our website: www. It is disappointing that you saw so many doctors who failed to correctly identify your cough as a common drug side effect. It should be possible to control high blood pressure without intolerable reactions. Q. I was addicted to eating cornstarch for 10 years. Then I was hospitalized for an unrelated problem and got a blood transfusion. My doctor also put me on iron and potassium supplements, and my cornstarch cravings completely disappeared. Other people who crave cornstarch really should be tested for anemia so they don’t have to be addicted like I was. A. We have heard from hundreds of people who crave cornstarch or nonnutritive substances like ice and clay at our website ( This is called pica. It often is associated with a deficiency of Franklin County May 22, 2012 Primary City Commission • State Representative (56th District) Mayor • U.S. Congress Representative (6th District) This section will be published in The State Journal and the AdVantage May 7 and reach over 85% of Franklin County! Meet the Candidates. Why do they want the office? What are the issues, and where does each candidate stand? Why is this election so important? How do these offices affect you? Where do you vote? What do first time voters need to know? Plus: We will get answers to your questions from the candidates. Submit your questions to All questions must be received by Monday, April 16. To reserve your ad space in Primary Election 2012, contact Retail Advertising at 502-227-4556. Advertising Deadline: April 30, 2012. CMYK iron, zinc or other minerals. People with celiac disease, which interferes with proper absorption of nutrients, may be at higher risk (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, February 1990). Q. Some time ago, you mentioned that coffee grounds can stop bleeding from cuts. I have another alternative that I learned at a cooking class. I cut my finger within the first couple of minutes of the class and was bummed that I would have to deal with a bleeding finger for the rest of the day. Then the teacher took some nori (sushi seaweed) and wrapped it around the cut under a bandage. It made the bleeding stop quickly. Since that time, I always keep some nori in a little plastic bag on my kitchen counter and have used the remedy several times. A. Nori is the name for the dark seaweed used to wrap sushi. This is the first we have heard that it could be helpful in stopping bleeding. Other readers have testified about the benefits of ground black pepper or ground sage, as well as coffee grounds. Thank you for sharing your remedy. You can read more about such kitchen first aid at www.PeoplesPharmacy. com. Q. You sometimes have questions from people who want a way to stop a headache. I use pure cacao (100 percent or 99 percent, which means no sugar) for migraines and tension headaches. I’ve found that half a teaspoon (12 nibs) is sufficient. The dose can be repeated, if necessary. I love chocolate, but do not eat it except as a medicinal remedy. It works. A. We appreciate your unusual remedy. Chocolate is frequently listed as a potential migraine trigger, so it is a surprise to learn that unsweetened cacao works so well for you against migraines. Q. Have you ever heard that liquid Pepto-Bismol applied topically can help speed acne healing? A. There is nothing in the scientific literature suggesting that bismuth subsalicylate (Pepto-Bismol) would be helpful against blemishes. That said, salicylates have been used in topical acne treatments for decades. We have seen testimonials suggesting that putting PeptoBismol on the face for several hours can be helpful. Other unusual acne treatments include spot treatments with Listerine and a mask of milk of magnesia. Leave it on overnight and wash off in the morning. Q. My grandfather was bayoneted in the stomach in World War I. His comrades left, promising to pick him up later. They did leave some water for him. He said as he lay there he watched the maggots eating at his dead flesh. When his unit returned, his friends were surprised to find him still alive. He died at age 82. A. Maggot therapy to remove dead tissue from wounds may date back as far as the Old Testament. French physicians documented its value as early as the 16th century. Just a few months ago, French researchers in Caen and Lyon studied this method of treating wounds and determined that it works faster than conventional treatment (Archives of Dermatology online, Dec. 19, 2011). In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer questions from readers. E-mail them via their website: www. If you would like more information regarding any of the topics discussed by the Graedons, visit their website for a variety of books, pamphlets and videos for sale on every topic. Spectrum Deadlines Here are the deadlines for items to be published in the Sunday Spectrum section: All articles must be received at the newspaper by 1 p.m. on Tuesday prior to publication on Sunday. This applies to weddings and engagements, reports of club meetings, library news, special columns, birth and other announcements, school menus, etc. “Around the Town” submissions will be published as space permits. The deadline for the Community Calendar is 10 a.m. on Thursday for Sunday publication, but all other articles for Sunday publication are due in the office by 1 p.m. on Tuesday. Submitted pictures which have run in the previous week’s Spectrum section may be picked up at the front desk of the newspaper, 1216 Wilkinson Blvd., beginning the Tuesday morning following publication. If you have questions, call or e-mail Philip Case: ( or Linda Younkin: ( at 227-4556. Dear abby Mom who caused daughter’s injury now must help her heal D e ar a bby : My two children were in a terrible car accident and were both airlifted to a children’s hospital. My son was released two weeks later, but my daughter is still there, suffering from traumatic brain injury. Abby, I was driving the car. Why can’t my daughter have the life I took away from her? Why is she being punished and not me? ANGUISHED MOTHER Dear anGuisheD : You’re asking a question that philosophers have pondered for centuries – why bad things happen to good people. In many cases the answer is simply “fate.” While you feel your daughter is being punished instead of you, I say the guilt you’re carrying IS punishment and it is not healthy for you or your child. Please don’t waste time flogging yourself, because your daughter needs you. Counseling may help you to come to terms with what happened. I hope you’ll consider it, as you will need every ounce of strength you can muster to help her in the months ahead. D e ar a bby : My boyfriend and I are in a serious relationship. Not long ago we got on the topic of marriage and what we are looking for. He comes from a religious family and I do not. His mother says if we don’t get married in a church with a religious ceremony, she won’t consider me her daughter-inlaw and we won’t be a married couple. I want a civil ceremony, something outside and casual. Thankfully, my boyfriend agrees with me. We’re just not sure how to deal with his mom and her point of view. What should we do? LOOKING TO THE FUTURE De ar looKinG to the Future : W hat you should do depends upon to what degree you want to placate his mother. Having the casual ceremony you want in the setting of your choosing, and afterward having your union blessed in a clergyperson’s study, might be a workable compromise. D e ar a bby: I w as recently a bridesmaid at a friend’s wedding. The bride gave all of us bridesmaids gifts after the reception. The bags were fancy and contained expensive gourmet chocolate candy. When I went to open mine, I noticed the box had already been unwrapped and half of it had been eaten. I didn’t say anything to the others or the bride because I didn’t want to hurt her feelings or seem ungrateful. What should I do? BRIDESMAID D e ar b ri D e smai D : W hile it’s unfortunate, I see no reason to bring it up now. Expensive or not, it’s only a box of chocolates, and it appears someone may have bitten off more than they should chew. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby. com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069. CMYK

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