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Could diabetes medicine cause chest/throat burning?

Q: I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes a few years ago, and my doctor started me on metformin. At first it caused horrible diarrhea. Taking the drug with food lessened that problem a bit.

Now I find that the constant burning in my throat and chest is unbearable. Even the Nexium I take doesn't help.

My short-term memory is deteriorating. Could metformin be responsible?

A. Metformin is a very useful medication to control blood sugar in Type 2 diabetes. Gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea, nausea, flatulence and indigestion are fairly common side effects. They usually fade after several months of use, so if your heartburn has just started, you should contact your doctor promptly.

Metformin and Nexium (esomeprazole) can interfere with the absorption of vitamin B-12. Over time, the level of this vitamin could become low enough to affect memory. Ask your doctor to check your B-12 level so you will know if you should take a supplement.

Q: I tried numerous over-the-counter remedies to ease my inflamed hemorrhoids, to no avail. I had pretty much resigned myself to the fact that surgery was the only answer left.

I was in absolute misery until I found a testimonial about blackstrap molasses for hemorrhoids in "The People's Pharmacy" column and decided to give it a try. As crazy as it sounds, I take 2 teaspoons a day, and the improvement has been amazing and immediate.

It has been three weeks, and the problem is 95 percent better. The bleeding has stopped, and the pain is gone. This is so astounding I had to encourage others to try it.

A: We have heard from many readers who have found taking a spoonful of blackstrap molasses helps hemorrhoid symptoms. Blackstrap molasses results from the third boiling of cane syrup to extract the sugar and contains residual minerals, such as manganese, copper, iron, calcium, potassium and magnesium. One of these, or perhaps the combination, might be responsible for the benefits you have observed. Two teaspoons contain 32 calories from 8 grams of carbohydrates.

Q: You recently wrote that sea salt has no iodine, but there are brands on the market that are iodized. I use Hain Iodized Sea Salt, and I also have seen Morton Iodized Sea Salt. I trust this is a better choice than regular salt.

A: Thank you for alerting us to these brands of iodized sea salt. When you use one of them, you don't have to worry about too little iodine in the diet causing goiter. Most commercial sea salt has very little iodine, raising the concern about thyroid health and goiter.

Q: I had high triglycerides until I read about taking 1/4 teaspoon a day of cinnamon. My triglycerides have been perfect ever since. Sugar is the culprit in high triglycerides.

A: Other readers also have found that cinnamon can help control triglycerides. Cinnamon blunts the rapid rise in blood sugar and insulin after a meal.

In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Send questions to them via

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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