Doc, I take allergy drugs daily; is it safe?
What you need to know:
- Cetrizine is useful in short term and long term control of allergic rhinitis, which is what causes the runny nose.
- When taken for a long time, there’s a small risk of developing itching if you stop taking it suddenly. Long term use of high doses was also reported, in one case, to cause abnormal neurological reactions (dystonia/tardive dyskinesia).
Dear Dr, I take a pill of cetirizine almost every day, which is effective in managing a runny nose caused by an allergic reaction triggered by a number of things. I try as much as I can to avoid any triggers but I suspect my working environment, which is a bit cold, is a trigger. Can prolonged use of cetirizine be detrimental to my health?
Cetrizine is useful in short term and long term control of allergic rhinitis, which is what causes the runny nose. Once someone has gotten over the short term side effects (drowsiness, dry mouth) in the first few days, then it can be used safely for long in most people. However, it is advisable to only take it when necessary and take breaks whenever possible. When taken for a long time, there’s a small risk of developing itching if you stop taking it suddenly. Long term use of high doses was also reported, in one case, to cause abnormal neurological reactions (dystonia/tardive dyskinesia).
What is epilepsy in medical terms?
Epilepsy is a problem of the brain, where there are short bursts of abnormal nerve signals/brain electrical activity leading to seizures. Seizures may be uncontrollable muscle movements or loss of muscle control, or abnormal sensations, abnormal behaviour and sometimes loss of awareness. Epilepsy is diagnosed when you have two or more unprovoked seizures. There are two types of seizures: generalised seizures, where the whole brain is involved; and focal seizures, where only one part of the brain is involved. A focal seizure may be simple, with no loss of consciousness, but there are emotional reactions, involuntary jerking of one part of the body or abnormal experience in the body’s senses. A focal seizure may also be complex, with the person not being aware of what is going on and being in a dream-like state, staring into space and repeated movement. Generalised seizures always involve loss of awareness and may be absence seizures (staring into space, with or without abnormal movements), tonic seizures where there is muscle stiffness, drop or atonic seizures where there is complete loss of muscle control, clonic seizures where there are repeated jerking movements, myoclonic seizures where there are muscle twitches and tonic clonic seizures where there is stiffening and jerking of muscles. Usually, there is no memory of the seizure thereafter and there maybe loss of bladder/bowel control.
In about half of those with epilepsy, there is no identifiable cause. Factors that can contribute to developing epilepsy include genetics, or as result of head trauma, brain infections, stroke, brain tumour, severe illness or fever, neurological disorders, developmental disorders or damage to the baby’s brain during pregnancy or at birth.
There are potential triggers that can bring on a seizure in an epileptic person such as being sick, having a fever, having low blood sugar, lack of sleep, stress, bright lights or flashing lights, head injury, some food ingredients, alcohol, other drugs, caffeine and some medications. Possible epilepsy complications are injury during a seizure including risk of drowning, accidents, psychological challenges; pregnancy complications and developmental challenges in children. Serious but rare complications include sudden unexpected death in epilepsy due to breathing or heart complications; and status epilepticus, where there is prolonged or recurrent seizure activity with no regaining consciousness between seizures, which has a high risk of permanent brain damage and death.
Currently there’s no cure for epilepsy, but it can be managed using medication. It is best managed by a physician or a neurologist with regular follow-ups. Some people recover fully from epilepsy after some time. If you encounter someone having a generalised seizure, help them get to the ground and place them on the side for easier breathing; put something soft under their head; clear anything dangerous from the environment; loosen any tight clothing and remove their glasses if they have them. Do not try to stop their movements or put anything in their mouth and do not give them anything to eat or drink before they are fully alert.
Hello Doc, I am 26. Please assist me. My muscles don't develop as they should; with my age, my body doesn't have the strength and ability it should have. I struggle when climbing a staircase. I cannot lift up my body; like doing squats, I struggle getting up by holding onto something. My hands cannot carry heavy things, for instance, I cannot carry a 20ltr jerrican. I am not capable of doing a lot of physical activities, even the simple ones. Is there any medication? I had planned to take body mass gainers but then learnt that they have a lot of side effects.
It seems you may have a muscle and/or nerve problems that have impaired your muscle function. It may also be due to a thyroid disease, electrolyte imbalance (low potassium, low magnesium or high calcium levels) or due to an autoimmune disease, where your immune system attacks tissues in your body leading to the weakness.
All of these are serious disorders and you need to be seen by a physician or a neurologist so that the exact cause can be identified and the best course of management will be decided on. Body mass gainers will not be helpful at all and may actually worsen the situation.
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