I have been given prednisone twice. It was only so-so for the problems for which it was prescribed, but while I was taking it, my arthritis completely went away. I was told I can't take it long-term because of side effects. Is there any way to get the benefits without the bad parts?
Corticosteroids such as prednisone are powerful anti-inflammatory agents, which is why they are used to treat everything from asthma to poison ivy. They can ease the pain of arthritis, but at a price. Long-term use may trigger fluid retention, potassium loss, high blood pressure, insomnia, mood swings, osteoporosis, weight gain, glaucoma, cataracts and diabetes. There is no way to eliminate these risks.
I have always been very sensitive to cold medicines. At even half the recommended dosage, I experience strong reactions, and even nighttime cold medicines make me hyper.
Why do some people get drowsy when they take these remedies?
Cold remedies often contain antihistamines and decongestants. Many people find that drugs like the decongestant pseudoephedrine are very stimulating. Any cold or cough medicine with "D" at the end of the name could pose problems, especially at night.
Antihistamines such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl) or chlorpheniramine (Alka-Seltzer Plus Flu tablets) normally make people drowsy. But many children and some adults react differently. Such drugs stimulate them. Taking antihistamines at night could be counterproductive for such individuals.
Joe Graedon, a pharmacologist, and Teresa Graedon, an expert in medical anthropology and nutrition, can be reached at http://www.peoplespharmacy.com or care of this newspaper.