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I am about to fall into the Medicare Part D "doughnut hole" and would like to buy my drugs from Canada to save money for the remainder of this year. How do I know which online pharmacy to select?

Many senior citizens who signed up for the prescription-drug benefit from Medicare are shocked when they hit the so-called doughnut hole. When drug expenses come to a total of $2,400, patients must pay 100 percent of their medication bill. If drug expenses eventually exceed $5,451, Part D kicks in again with catastrophic coverage until the end of the year.

If you don't think your drug expenses will get that high, you might want to consider purchasing your medicines from Canada. Be sure that you are shopping from a legitimate Canadian online pharmacy, however. Fraudulent pharmacies may be doing business from other countries without the quality control we expect from Canada.

My 86-year-old father was taking Avandia for diabetes. When concerns began to appear in the news, I asked his doctor to take him off the drug because of fluid retention.

The difference is amazing. While he was on Avandia, he had two liters of fluid removed from around his lungs twice. His pants waist size had increased several times during that time. All of the fluid is gone now that he has been off Avandia for a while.

The maker of Avandia warns that this drug can cause fluid retention and congestive heart failure. Patients are cautioned that swelling, rapid weight gain, breathing problems or unusual tiredness may be serious and deserve immediate medical attention. It's a shame your father's physicians did not identify Avandia earlier as the cause of his fluid retention.

I used to work backstage for the wardrobe department in a theater. Actors sweat, and clothes that are not machine-washable are dry-cleaned only once a week. Clothes smell.

The solution that I was taught is to spray undiluted white vinegar or vodka (the cheaper and higher proof the better) on the armpits and other sweaty areas of the clothing. Once the vinegar or vodka dried, the clothes didn't smell.

Thanks for this fascinating tip. Before spraying the entire garment, though, it might be a good idea to test the vinegar or vodka to make sure it won't stain.

I've lost the source of research I read indicating some people experience elevated cholesterol from using glucosamine and chondroitin for arthritis. Do you know of the study?

Months ago, my doctor said my cholesterol was way too high. She wanted me to take drugs for it. Instead, I quit taking the supplements. All my cholesterol counts improved greatly. I also ate more oatmeal and started on Levothroid. I now want to resume the glucosamine protocol and see if my cholesterol goes back up.

Readers of this column first began reporting in 1998 that their cholesterol levels rose while they were taking glucosamine and chondroitin. Levels fell when they stopped the arthritis supplements.

There is little research on this topic. In 2004, Danish regulators reported a handful of similar cases. Although a placebo-controlled trial did not verify such a connection, some people may be susceptible.

Oatmeal and thyroid hormone (Levothroid) can help lower cholesterol. If you monitor your cholesterol, you will be able to tell whether resuming supplements raises your lipid levels.

In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Write to them in care of this newspaper or e-mail them via their Web site: PeoplesPharmacy.com.

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