donohue 11.22

Too much sweat, too much of a good thing

Dear Dr. Donohue: I am a retired lady of 73 years. I have a sweating problem. The minute I get up and move around, I sweat profusely. The only time I get relief is if I sit down for half an hour. In the winter, I go outside soaking wet. I hope you can offer something to give me relief. – T.S.

First on the list of things to do is for you and your doctor to search for all the illnesses that promote sweating. An overactive thyroid gland, diabetes, hidden infections, acromegaly (a disturbance of the pituitary gland), Parkinson’s disease and pheochromocytoma (an adrenal gland tumor) are examples of such illnesses. Next on the list is an inventory of all the medicines you take. If you are using aspirin on a daily basis, that might be the source of trouble. Aspirin resets the body’s thermostat, and when its effects wear off, a person might produce drenching sweats. Beta-blocking drugs, used for blood pressure control and angina, also promote sweating in some people. The same goes for some antidepressant medicines.

If you strike out on finding an illness or identifying a precipitating medicine, then your back is against the wall. Localized sweating often responds to the application of aluminum chloride (Drysol). Botox, the bacterial toxin that causes a serious kind of food poisoning, is another remedy. The manufacturer has diluted the toxin so it does not pose a threat.

Severing nerves that turn sweat glands’ switches to the “on” position can stop sweating problems. Again, it is most useful for sweating in a specific area.

Pro-Banthine can rescue some from excessive sweating. It’s a prescription drug, and your doctor must decide if a trial of it is useful in your case.

DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I have been on Norvasc (amlodipine) for years for moderate hypertension (high blood pressure). My doctor says that I have to stay on it for my entire life. I disagree because I get swelling of the lower legs and ankles. Do you agree with him, despite the swelling? — M.L.

ANSWER: Norvasc does a good job of lowering many people’s blood pressure without causing any side effects. You happen to be one who is a victim of ankle and lower leg swelling, a Norvasc side effect that occurs in only a few users.

I don’t agree with your doctor. Unless there is some reason that is hidden from you and me, a sensible solution is to switch to another medicine. If the doctor is inflexible about Norvasc, then I would ask why must I continue to use it when there are so many other effective blood pressure medicines.

Don’t stop on your own. An abrupt withdrawal of blood pressure medicine can make pressure rise to dangerous levels.

The blood pressure report deals with the many ways to treat this common ailment. Readers can obtain a copy by writing to: Dr. Donohue — No. 4, Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. Enclose a self-addressed, stamped (57 cents), No. 10 envelope and a check or money order for $3. Please allow four weeks for delivery.

DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I am 64 years old and walk for 20 minutes every day. I had a stent implanted in July of this past year. My doctor told me that my LAD was 95 percent clogged. Will you please tell me if that is the main artery that supplies the heart with blood? — C.P.

ANSWER: A right and left coronary artery branch from the aorta and make their way to the heart. Shortly after they reach the heart, the “main” left artery divides into two arteries: the left anterior descending (LAD) and the circumflex.

All are important sources of blood supply to heart muscle. The short left “main” artery can be considered the most important because it serves the entire pumping left side of the heart. The LAD — left anterior descending artery, an offshoot of the left main — is the artery second in importance.

Readers, CP had his LAD dilated with a balloon. After it was opened up, a stent — an expandable, metal meshwork — was positioned in the dilated area to keep the artery open.

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Dr. Donohue regrets that he is unable to answer individual letters, but he will incorporate them in his column whenever possible. Readers may write him or request an order form of available health newsletters at P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475.

(c) 2001 North America Syndicate Inc.

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