Q. I am in the construction industry and have to deal with all kinds of weather. I am also an emergency medical technician with 18 years of experience.On July 19, I died. Fortunately for me, I was with co-workers when I passed out with no vital signs. They immediately started CPR while waiting for the on-site medics to arrive. The medical team had a defibrillator with them, and I was resuscitated within a few minutes.When I arrived at the hospital, my potassium level was critically low. The temperature in the facility that day was over 109 degrees. I was drinking water, but plain water can "wash" potassium out of the body.Anyone working in heat and humidity, or even just stuck in an apartment without air conditioning, should replenish minerals as well as water.
A. We're glad you survived. People are often told to drink lots of water in hot weather to avoid dehydration. But it is possible to overdo this good advice. When potassium levels drop too low, people can experience muscle weakness and cramping, trouble breathing and cardiac arrest. Low-sodium levels have also been linked to life-threatening collapse, so maintaining mineral balance in hot weather is crucial. Sports drinks may help.
Q. I am desperate because I can't get my thyroid under control. I was diagnosed with a thyroid deficiency more than 10 years ago. I also have elevated cholesterol, and I am convinced that all this is related to the thyroid. My test results are inconsistent, and my doctor is not interested in adding T3 to Synthroid. Where can I learn more about these issues so I can talk intelligently with him?
A. It can be tricky to get the dose of thyroid hormone just right. Patients aren't always told that they may need different doses during different seasons. Interactions with dietary supplements or certain drugs may also interfere with thyroid effectiveness. The balance between T3 and T4 is important, although taking T3 is controversial. Body tissues are supposed to convert T4 to T3, but the process may not always be efficient.We discuss this question in our Guide to Thyroid Hormones. We also discussed T3 and T4 in depth with experts on our radio show. We'd like to send you a CD of this hour-long interview along with our Thyroid Guide. Others who would like this information should send $18 in check or money order to: Graedons' People's Pharmacy, No. T-538, P.O. Box 52027, Durham, NC 27717-2027.
XIn their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 888 Seventh Ave., New York, N.Y. 10019, or e-mail them at firstname.lastname@example.org or via their Web site: www.peoplespharmacy.org.
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