It’s Best to Taper Off Heartburn Meds
DEAR DR. ROACH: I am a 61-year-old woman in fairly good health except that I have been taking prescription omeprazole once a day for heartburn for at least 10 years, if not more. I’ve read articles that say this isn’t good to take long term, like I’ve been doing. When I’ve tried to stop by using famotidine instead, I still suffer from heartburn throughout the day. I’ve raised my bed and tried sleeping in an upright position. Your thoughts, please. — O.D.S.
ANSWER: It certainly is a good idea to periodically review with your doctor all the medications you take, to decide whether they are still necessary. It is very often the case that people are taking medications for unclear reasons, and the person who is prescribing it has been doing so without really thinking about whether the benefits still outweigh the risks, especially as people get older and may have acquired new conditions or had medication changes.
Proton pump inhibitors like omeprazole frequently are prescribed for short-term use but end up being continued for years. Except in people who absolutely need it (such as people with Barrett’s esophagus), I agree with a trial of stopping and using H2 blockers like famotidine on an as-needed basis. I recommend a taper, not a sudden stop.
Proton pump inhibitors are likely to increase the risk of infection, such as pneumonia (without acid in the stomach, bacteria are not killed as efficiently) and intestinal infections; may possibly increase the risk of osteoporosis; and probably reduce vitamin B-12 and iron absorption. Although there have been reports of increased risk of kidney disease and dementia, I doubt the actual clinical risk is significant. Still, there are enough possible adverse effects that it is worth balancing the risks against the benefits of reducing symptoms.
I am glad you tried some nondrug therapies, as we doctors often do not emphasize how important they are. In addition to raising the head of the bed (bricks under the feet is traditional, but a foam wedge under the mattress is also effective), losing weight for those who would benefit, avoiding tobacco and alcohol, and not eating three hours before bedtime make drugs unnecessary for many. Some people benefit from eliminating certain foods, especially caffeine, chocolate and fatty or spicy foods.
• • •
DEAR DR. ROACH: I received literature in the mail about a new miracle cure for enlarged prostate. The ads state that the new pills shrink the prostate back to normal. Is there such a pill, or is this a scam? I am afraid it is pills filled with drywall dust. — B.F.
ANSWER: I’m afraid it’s more likely to be a scam than real, but there are a few herbal therapies that have been shown to help — but not cure — enlarged prostate glands in men. Saw palmetto is well-known, but most recently was found to be no better than placebo. Beta-sitosterol, cernilton and Pygeum africanum all are plant extracts with some evidence of benefit, at least when it comes to symptoms.
You are quite correct that without independent laboratory verification, there is no way to be sure of the quality and purity of dietary supplements. They are not regulated the way prescription drugs (or even foods) are.
Dr. Roach regrets that he is unable to answer
individual letters, but will incorporate them
in the column whenever possible.
Readers may email questions to ToYourGoodHealth@med.cornell.edu.
© 2019 North America Synd., Inc.
All Rights Reserved
It’s beginning to look a lot like WINTER. Both the snow and the temperatures have fallen early this year. Because of this many people are racing to get their holiday decorations up. Around the holidays, fire departments across the country see in uptick in fires. Here are some holiday safety tips to help make your holiday celebrations safer.
Two out of every five home decoration fires were started by a candle. Use flameless candles if possible. They look and sound the same as a real candle without the potential dangers. If you choose to use real candles then make sure they are placed in areas where there is nothing flammable around or near them and where pets and children can’t get ahold of them.
When selecting lights read the manufacturer’s instructions on where to place them. Some lights are only for interior use and should not be used outside. Using them in areas where they aren’t supposed to be used could cause a spark or become an electrocution hazard if they get wet. Also, replace any strings of lights that have worn or broken cords or have any loose connections.
When hanging lights, use clips or other approved hanging devices for lights and other decorations. Never use nails to hang lights because nails could penetrate through the cord which could lead to a fire. Place lights on a timer so they turn off at night when you are sleeping or when you leave home. Some of the older style lights could potentially overheat if left on for too long.
Almost half of decoration fires are caused by decorations being placed too close to a heat source. Avoid placing decorations directly above fireplaces or other heat sources. If using a space heater, make sure you leave a three foot radius clear of anything else around the space heater.
And as always, make sure your smoke alarms are working. If you have any questions or would like further information I can be reached at 563-589-4195 or at Dpaulson@cityofdubuque.org. Have a safe and happy holiday season.
• Do you butter your cheese? You might want to try it when you hear this tip from K.M. in Pennsylvania: “I was always taught to rub a bit of butter on the cut side of my cheese so that it would not dry out.”
• “I love handmade whipped cream, but it’s a little bit messy when it starts out. I throw a small kitchen towel over the mixer until it gets solid, and this has cut down substantially on mixer messes!” — T.T. in Minnesota
• When static season hits, try this fun trick: Mix a liquid fabric softener and water in a 1 part to 4 parts ratio. Use this to spray carpets from time to time.
• Looking for a small eco-friendly swap? Try using biodegradable garbage bags. They are available at some grocery stores and at online retailers.
• “I have two guest bedrooms that hardly get used until holidays. I keep the beds made up, but when I am expecting guests I will usually strip the beds to freshen the sheets and blankets. I toss the sheets into the dryer with a fabric-softener sheet and hang the blanket outside in the sunshine for several hours. It always does the trick, and I don’t need to wash linens that are already clean!” — U.C. in California
• “When you get to the end of your bottle of shampoo or conditioner, just add a bit of water to the bottle, and then shake. You can get at least two more uses out of it, even if you think it’s totally empty. Waste not, want not!” — G.T. in Alabama
• “For easier cooking when making large holiday meals, simply choose two side dishes that can be oven-cooked in the same amount of time at an average temperature. I like one or two that can be cooked in the microwave as well.” — E.U. in Texas
Send your tips to
Now Here’s a Tip,
628 Virginia Drive,
Orlando, FL 32803.
© 2019 King Features Synd., Inc.
Rich, creamy — and safe, because it starts with
12 large eggs
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 quarts whole milk
1 cup dark rum (optional)
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg plus additional for sprinkling
1 cup heavy or whipping cream
1. In heavy 4-quart saucepan, with wire whisk, beat eggs, sugar and salt until blended. Gradually stir in 1 quart milk and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until custard thickens and coats the back of a spoon well, about 25 minutes (mixture should be about 160 F, but do not boil or it will curdle).
2. Pour custard into large bowl; stir in rum, if using, vanilla extract, 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg and remaining 1 quart milk. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 3 hours.
3. In small bowl, with mixer at medium speed, beat heavy or whipping cream until soft peaks form. With wire whisk, gently fold whipped cream into custard mixture.
4. To serve, pour eggnog into chilled 5-quart punch bowl; sprinkle with nutmeg for garnish. Makes about 16 cups or 32 servings.
• Each serving: About 125 calories, 5g protein, 11g carb., 7g total fat (4g saturated), 0g fiber, 98mg cholesterol, 90mg sodium.
For more holiday recipes, visit our Web site at www.goodhousekeeping.com/food-recipes/.
© 2019 Hearst Communications, Inc.
All rights reserved
Ham & Green Beans With Noodles
If you love ham as much as we do, and if you hate washing dishes as much as we do, then you’ll love this easy one-skillet main dish!
1 (10 3/4-ounce) can reduced-fat cream of mushroom soup
1 cup water
2 cups frozen cut green beans, partially thawed
1 3/4 cups uncooked noodles
1 1/2 cups diced 97% fat-free ham
1/4 cup nonfat sour cream
1/4 cup reduced-fat Parmesan cheese
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1. In a large skillet, combine mushroom soup and water. Stir in green beans, uncooked noodles and ham. Cover and cook over medium heat for 12 to 15 minutes or until beans and noodles are tender, stirring occasionally.
2. Add sour cream, Parmesan cheese and black pepper. Mix well to combine. Lower heat and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Makes 4 (1 cup) servings.
• Each serving equals: 253 calories, 5g fat, 16g protein, 36g carb., 886mg sodium, 2g fiber; Diabetic Exchanges: 2 Meat, 2 Starch, 1 Vegetable.
© 2019 King Features Syndicate, Inc.