Q. I took cetirizine (Zyrtec) for about four months, and when I stopped, I started to itch horribly. First my feet, then my hands and my scalp acted.
I didn’t know what was wrong until I read about other cetirizine withdrawal sufferers on your website. I had all the symptoms.
I would use a hairbrush to scrape the itch without breaking the skin. I also took vitamin C and probiotics as others have suggested they might help. Acupuncture got me through the worst.
The night was torture, but now that I’m on day 20 of my cold turkey withdrawal, I finally slept a whole night without scratching. My advice to others is to resist.
A. Neither the label nor the medical literature warns that stopping cetirizine suddenly can cause unbearable itching. Nevertheless, visitors to www.PeoplePharmacy.com reported that hives and itching can be agonizing and last for weeks.
Some people have reported success with gradually decreasing the dose. To do this, some people break the tablets into smaller and smaller pieces until they are finally able to gradually go away without itching. Others report that taking vitamin C supplements can help relieve their symptoms.
Q. My doctor prescribed atorvastatin (Lipitor) for me even though my cholesterol was okay. He wanted it even lower.
Please alert your readers that while atorvastatin may be effective in lowering cholesterol, the cure may be worse than the disease. Not only did I suffer from muscle aches, fatigue and leg cramps, but I thought my testicles were on fire. The pain was excruciating. I have spoken with other people who have experienced similar issues.
A. Many people report muscle or joint pain and fatigue when taking cholesterol lowering drugs such as statins. Although official prescribing information lists urinary tract infections as a possible side effect, there is no mention of testicular pain.
We did, however, find a case report in the medical literature (Annals of Pharmacotherapy, January 2007). A 54-year-old man had sore testicles when he took lovastatin. He stopped the medicine and the pain was gone. This experiment was repeated with simvastatin and again with atorvastatin.
We discuss the pros and cons of statins and other ways to lower cholesterol in our Guide to Cholesterol Control and Heart Health. For anyone requesting a copy, please send a $ 3 check or money order along with a long envelope (# 10) stamped (66 cents) and self-addressed to: Graedons’ People’s Pharmacy, No. C-8 , PO Box 52027, Durham, NC 27717-2027. It can also be downloaded for $ 2 from our website: www.peoplespharmacy.com.
Research also suggests that statins are associated with lower testosterone levels and hypogonadism (Journal of Sexual Medicine, April 2010).
Q. Several years ago a vet suggested giving our dog Metamucil (psyllium fiber) to prevent chronic diarrhea. I too suffered from chronic diarrhea due to food allergies. Because our dog was doing so well, my wife suggested that Metamucil might help me. To my surprise, it was practically a miracle.
When he learned of my experience, my son (associate dean of a pharmacy school) tested Metamucil to minimize his own chronic diarrhea problem and found it to be beneficial.
A. Although most people think of Metamucil to help with constipation, it can also help with certain types of diarrhea.
In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon respond to letters from readers. Write to them in this journal or email them through their website: www.PeoplesPharmacy.com.