Medications break the bank

The Baltimore Sun

I rarely take medicine, but this winter I have had sinusitis and a nasty cough that required several medications. My enlarged prostate gets me up to go to the bathroom a few times a night, and I have trouble falling back to sleep. I am in total shock after a trip to the pharmacy. Here is a list of my medications and the cost. My insurance has a high deductible, so this is all out of pocket: Flovent inhaler ($173.52) to ease my cough; Singulair ($126.99) and Nasonex ($102.99) for allergies; Nexium ($180.99) for reflux; Avodart ($124.99) for the prostate and Ambien ($130.99) for insomnia. Total: $840.47. Is there any way to get these drugs more affordably? Another month like this and I'll be eating rice and beans.

Yikes! Without insurance, prescription drugs can bust a budget. You might want to consider purchasing some of your medicine from a legitimate Canadian online pharmacy. Doing so could save you more than $300. Not all online pharmacies are reliable, however. We are sending you our Guide to Saving Money on Medicine with tips on identifying genuine Canadian online drugstores, plus ways to use generic drugs safely and information on accessing free medicine.

I have had eczema ever since I was a child. I have used many steroid creams through the years, and while they help alleviate it a bit, those creams were not very soothing in bad bouts and just kept away the worst irritations. I have been going to a young dermatologist who advised me to use CeraVe Moisturizing Cream (not lotion). I can't rave about it enough. Immediately after bathing, I put it on, and 24 hours later, when I shower, I can feel that the cream is still there. I have only had to use one of the prescription creams a few times since starting with this more than a year ago. Keeping my skin hydrated seems to do the trick for me.

CeraVe moisturizer contains no fragrance to irritate the skin, but it does contain ceramides. These are natural fatty compounds found in cell membranes. People with eczema frequently have lower levels of ceramides in their skin. Moisturizing can help keep eczema from itching and may boost the effectiveness of topical steroids when you need to use them.

You briefly mentioned Earl Grey tea causing leg cramps. You suggested that oil of bergamot, used for flavoring, can interfere with potassium absorption. Eliminating the tea was an instant cure for my persistent problem with muscle cramps. I just wanted you to know.

Earl Grey tea gets its distinctive flavor from the citrus fruit bergamot. The oil contains a natural compound called bergapten that can interfere with the flow of potassium into and out of cells. This is presumed to be the reason that too much Earl Grey tea can cause muscle cramps in susceptible people (The Lancet, April 27, 2002). We're glad you were able to conquer your muscle cramps by giving up the tea.

Whenever my children hurt themselves, the first thing I reached for was the castor oil. My mother-in-law's uncle was a boxer and always used castor oil after a boxing match to prevent hematomas and bruising. It works like a charm. It has been passed down as a remedy in my family for many years.

Thanks for sharing your family remedy. We have heard from others that applying castor oil after a bump often can avert a bruise.

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:

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