Q. My 26-year-old daughter has been on Effexor for a little over one year for anxiety. Recently, she forgot a dose and the following day she experienced what she described as an electrical sensation from her feet to her head. She described it as a “zing.”
The sensation went away when she took the required dose that evening. She is on the lowest dose of Effexor and would like to stop taking it prior to getting pregnant. Should she be concerned about stopping this medication?
A. She should discuss her plan to start a family with her doctor, since she might need help getting off Effexor. New data suggests that when pregnant women take some Prozac-like antidepressants, the risk of heart and lung complications in newborns may increase.
The electrical “zing��? she experienced is sometimes mentioned when people describe what happens when they stop taking this or similar drugs. Effexor lasts such a short time in the body that even a missed dose may trigger some withdrawal symptoms.
We are sending you our Guides to Antidepressant Pros & Cons and Psychological Side Effects for more information on adverse drug reactions and phasing out medications. Anyone who would like copies, please send $2 in check or money order with a long (no. 10) stamped (63 cents), self-addressed envelope: Graedons’ The People’s Pharmacy®, No. MX-23, P. O. Box 52027, Durham, NC 27717-2027.
Q. I am planning a cruise in two weeks. I have suffered from seasickness previously, but mainly on small diving boats in Gulf waters.
I would like to take some medication along on my trip as a precaution. I know that the ships are large and without the choppiness of smaller boats, but I don’t want to take chances. Do you recommend the “patch” or other medications?
A. It is unlikely that you will suffer seasickness, but just in case you may want to take along some ginger. Chinese sailors have used this herb for thousands of years to ease their symptoms of motion sickness, and medical trials have confirmed that ginger may be helpful. You can find ginger pills (1000 mg) in your health food store.
Another option includes the over-the-counter drug Dramamine, though it can cause drowsiness. Some people find acupressure wrist bands (Sea Bands) helpful.
The prescription patch, Transderm Scop, can also prevent motion sickness but it may cause dry mouth, drowsiness, disorientation, blurred vision and difficulty urinating.
Q. Is there anything that can be done to prevent swimmer’s ear?
A. Swimmer’s ear (otitis externa) is a painful infection of the ear canal. This common problem can be a consequence of water remaining in the ear after swimming. To prevent it, have the swimmer tip the head to one side and pull that ear gently back and forth to release water after swimming. Repeat the maneuver on the other side.
If this does not work well enough, some physicians suggest drying out the ear with a rinse of half alcohol and half vinegar. Others recommend ear drops made of one part white vinegar to four parts water. This solution acidifies the ear canal and makes it inhospitable to fungus or other infections.
You can also buy ear drops: Auro-Dri, Star-Otic or Swim-Ear. The new recommendation for treating swimmer’s ear is for topical antibiotics, if needed, rather than oral medicine.