Q. I have taken both Viagra and Cialis. They work well, but I do get sinus pressure headaches when I take these drugs. I feel this has contributed to sinus infections that have required lengthy courses of antibiotics. Is this possible?
A. Nasal stuffiness is a relatively common reaction to drugs for erectile dysfunction like Viagra, Cialis and Levitra. People who experience chronic congestion may develop an infection and sinusitis as a consequence.
Please discuss this issue with your physician. There are other ways to treat erectile dysfunction.
Q. You have suggested that people should check prescriptions carefully to avoid pharmacy errors. How many people read Latin? Why aren’t prescriptions written in English? Start a crusade!
A. We have been campaigning against Latin abbreviations in prescriptions for nearly 30 years. There is no excuse for physicians to use this archaic system in the 21st century.
This idea makes some doctors angry, though. One took us to task after we wrote a column calling for prescriptions to be written in legible English:
“You do not have a right to tell us to change the standard format in which pharmacists provide service to physicians by saying that we should change the way prescriptions are written and have been forever. Pharmacists are here to serve, not to instruct.”
Despite this objection, the leading pharmacology textbook used in medical schools is clear: “The directions to the patient should always be written in English. The use of Latin abbreviations serves no useful purpose.”
Q. I have had weakness in my arms and legs, pain in my back, aching arms, loss of memory and fatigue. I have not been able to play golf for more than two years and I totally lost the quality of life I enjoyed prior to undergoing angioplasty and starting on Lipitor.
If there is to be a class action suit, I would like to be included. Your article helped me understand the pain and suffering I have endured.
A. Millions of people are able to take cholesterol-lowering drugs like atorvastatin (Lipitor), fluvastatin (Lescol), lovastatin (Mevacor), pravastatin (Pravachol), rosuvastatin (Crestor) and simvastatin (Zocor) without complications. But some experience debilitating muscle, nerve or joint pain, weakness, skin rash or memory problems.
The nutrient Coenzyme Q10 may help counteract some of these side effects. You can learn more about how to use it and alternative ways to control cholesterol in our new book, Best Choices From The People’s Pharmacy (Rodale Books).
We cannot offer legal advice. Several lawsuits have been filed claiming deceptive marketing of statins.
Q. Do nitroglycerin heart tablets lose their potency once the bottle is opened for the first use, or can I go by the expiration date on the bottle? I have gotten conflicting answers from my doctors and my pharmacist. I’m not sure whom I should believe.
A. Nitroglycerin evaporates easily, which is why these pills should never be left out in the open or in a plastic pillbox. Store them in the original amber glass bottle with the cap screwed down tightly.
If there is cotton in the bottle, take it out and throw it away as it can absorb the medicine. If you replace the cap firmly as soon as you remove a pill, you should be able to rely on the expiration date on the label.