Q: I read your column on killing mosquitoes with isopropyl alcohol spray. I have a remedy that works better and is fireproof, unlike alcohol.
Try Listerine. It kills them DEAD. I also put it in a spray bottle and spray it around the picnic tables and chairs to keep mosquitoes and bugs away.
A: We heard about an even more unorthodox method of killing bugs: "A better way to kill insects is ordinary hair spray. Most households already have it, and the spray is sticky. It makes the wings of flying insects unusable and seals the breathing orifices to suffocate the insects.
"It is water-soluble, so it can be easily wiped up with a damp cloth and leaves no stain on curtains or wallpaper. I've used it on wasps, ants, roaches, etc. I chase flying insects to a window and spray them on the glass pane, then clean up with a wet paper towel."
Keep in mind that hair spray is flammable and should never be used around an open flame.
Q: My doctor just prescribed Prevacid for acid reflux. I am reluctant to take this medicine because I have heard it might lead to weakened bones.
I already have severe osteoporosis because of a lengthy course of cortisone. This drug caused significant bone loss, so I am now taking Fosamax. I would hate to undo the benefits I have gotten on Fosamax, but the drug does cause bad heartburn. I feel caught in a dilemma and would appreciate any information you might have.
A: A surprising number of medicines have a negative effect on bone density. Prednisone and similar steroid-type drugs are notorious for this, but even inhaled corticosteroids like those found in Advair or Flovent can have an impact. So can certain seizure medicines such as Dilantin, Klonopin and Tegretol, as well as high-dose thyroid hormone (Levoxyl or Synthroid).
Acid suppressors such as Nexium, Prevacid, Prilosec and Protonix apparently reduce calcium absorption and may weaken bone as a result. Fosamax can cause irritation of the esophagus, but instead of taking a heartburn medicine, you might ask your doctor about a different osteoporosis drug.
We are sending you our Guide to Osteoporosis in which we discuss medications that contribute to weaker bones, along with the pros and cons of a variety of medicines for this condition. Anyone who would like a copy, please send $3 in check or money order with a long (No. 10), stamped (61 cents), self-addressed envelope to: Graedons' People's Pharmacy, No. U-92, P.O. Box 52027, Durham, NC 27717-2027. It also can be downloaded for $2 from our Web site: www.peoplespharmacy.com.
Q: I was put on Benicar last month to help bring my blood pressure down, since atenolol alone was not doing the job. Within four days I told the clinic I wouldn't take any more Benicar. It made my tongue and throat swell up in a very frightening way.
A: Angioedema, or swelling of the face, tongue and throat, is a potential side effect of Benicar (olmesartan). It can be severe, and if breathing is affected, it should be treated as a medical emergency. Please speak with your doctor about getting a different type of medicine to help control your blood pressure.
Q: I had severe leg cramps and read about putting a bar of soap under the sheet. I tried this and found it stopped them IMMEDIATELY. Even more astonishing, it also banished my intermittent erectile dysfunction.
I checked out the ingredients of Ivory soap and found it contains magnesium sulfate. Paramedics use this compound to treat heart attacks or asthma because it relaxes smooth muscle fibers found in blood vessels and airways. I wonder if magnesium is absorbed from the soap through the skin of the legs and feet, increasing blood flow. It works for me!
A: We've heard from many people who find soap under the bottom sheet helpful against leg cramps.
Yours is the first report on soap helping ED. We find it fascinating, but again, cannot explain it. Your magnesium theory is a stretch, though.
Q: More than 20 years ago, I came across an article promoting l-lysine as a preventive measure against cold-sore outbreaks. Having suffered with this virus since adolescence, I was motivated to try the supplement.
In my experience, l-lysine is a miracle drug. I used to have at least one outbreak a month, but I now only feel the initial "tingle" of a cold sore if I have overindulged in caffeine, been under an abnormal amount of stress or spent too much time in the sun. I take 1,000 mg a day, every day. If I feel an outbreak coming, I triple the dose for a couple of days, and the outbreak is prevented.
A: Many people report, like you, that l-lysine seems helpful in preventing or healing cold sores. Double-blind studies on l-lysine for cold sores have produced mixed results. There has been surprisingly little research in recent years, however.
In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. E-mail them via their Web site: www.PeoplesPharmacy.com.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun