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Keep Vicks VapoRub away from inside nose



Published: Sun, January 25, 2009 @ 12:00 a.m.

Q. You ran a letter from a forensic crime-scene detective who used Vicks VapoRub to mask nasty smells on the job. You should have said, “Don’t put Vicks VapoRub in your nose, your horse’s nose or your meerkat’s nose!” You idiots shouldn’t be writing a pharmacy column if you don’t know that Vicks will coat the lungs and should never be inhaled.

A. We do warn readers not to put Vicks in the nose for fear of triggering chemical pneumonitis (lung inflammation). In fact, the column you are referring to closed with this caution: “The manufacturer warns that Vicks VapoRub is ‘for external use only,’ and should not be put in nostrils. Regular use of petroleum jelly in the nose may increase the risk for lung irritation.”

This warning is more important than ever, since researchers at Wake Forest University recently reported a case in which an 18-month-old child developed severe breathing problems when her grandparents put Vicks under her nostrils for a cold (Chest, January 2009).

Q. I was on atenolol for high blood pressure and kept complaining to my doctor about fatigue, tiredness, light-headedness and swelling feet and ankles. I couldn’t breathe or walk up a flight of stairs without stopping to catch my breath every two steps. As a military dependent, I see various physicians. My current doctor switched me to propranolol. I am noticing that my feet and ankles are beginning to swell with this medication also, and I have developed asthma. There are days when I can’t do anything but sleep.

Are there better drugs or natural approaches to control my blood pressure? I am convinced that these medications have caused me more harm than good!

A. Atenolol and propranolol are both beta blockers. Such drugs are rarely considered appropriate as the first-line treatment for hypertension. They can trigger fatigue and asthma and are not appropriate for people with breathing difficulties. You should not have to suffer symptoms from your blood pressure medicine.

We are sending you our new Guide to Blood Pressure with many natural approaches, including helpful foods, special juices and breathing exercises, as well as the pros and cons of many medications. Anyone who would like a copy, please send $3 in check or money order with a long (No. 10), stamped (59 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 Web site: www.peoplespharmacy.com. We are concerned about your swollen feet and ankles and urge you to see a cardiologist who could evaluate this symptom.

Q. I am a 63-year-old woman who had estrogen-positive breast cancer 10 years ago. I had bilateral mastectomies, no chemo or radiation. Now I am extremely estrogen-deprived and cannot have sex because of the pain from vaginal dryness. My doctor will not prescribe estrogen to help with this problem because it might increase my risk of cancer recurrence. Is there some other way to treat these atrophic changes?

A. Applying a lubricant such as olive oil or coconut oil daily may be helpful. For intercourse, you might want to consider a water-based lubricant such as Sylk. It contains kiwi-fruit vine extract and is available on the Web at www.sylkusa.com or by calling (866) 831-2920.

XIn their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Write to them in care of The Vindicator or e-mail them via their Web site: www.PeoplesPharmacy.com. Their newest book is “Favorite Home Remedies From The People’s Pharmacy.”

2009 King Features Syndicate Inc.


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