Question: : Is there a neck-and-head exercise that helps relieve vertigo? I thought I read something to that effect. Drugs like meclizine do not help.

Answer: : A lot depends on the reason for the vertigo. If it is because of Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV), then the Epley maneuver can cure the condition within minutes. This is a series of movements of the head and neck that get the crystals from the inner ear back where they belong and restore a sense of equilibrium.

An ear, nose and throat specialist or an audiologist should be consulted for the correct diagnosis. Many can perform the Epley maneuver for you.

Question:: Could you please clear something up once and for all? Is there really a connection between drinking fruit or vegetable juices out of aluminum cans and developing Alzheimer's disease?

Answer: : It is unlikely that drinking fruit or vegetable juice from aluminum cans would increase the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease. That's because aluminum cans are coated with a plastic lining to prevent corrosion and protect the juice from acquiring a metallic flavor.

These plastic liners are not completely innocuous, we fear. Many of them contain bisphenol A (BPA), a compound that mimics estrogen. A recent analysis in Consumer Reports (December 2009) notes that some juice and canned foods contain measurable amounts of BPA in the food or beverage.

Question: : People with high drug bills are sometimes told to seek a "patient assistance program." The drug companies run these to provide free medicine for people who qualify.

It sounds great, but for me they have not been so helpful. I filed a huge packet of information, and then they came up with another question. Rather than just requesting the additional information, they denied my request and returned the entire packet for me to start over.

I was asked for a letter from my previous employer stating why my position ended. I certainly hadn't foreseen that! It took two weeks to get the packet back. Though I returned it immediately, they denied it because it did not have an original letter from unemployment about my benefits. So I am still in limbo. This whole process has taken more than six weeks.

I am in the doughnut hole, so I have no drug coverage. My unemployment payment ($345 weekly) makes me ineligible for other coverage, but my drug bills run $1,400 a month. I think patient assistance is a bit of a joke.

Answer: : Patient-assistance programs were created to provide free medicine for people who can't afford their drugs otherwise. The application process may vary from one company to another. The physician is a critical ally for such an application.

There is more information about patient-assistance programs at helpingpatients.org or 888-477-2669.

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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