December 14, 2010 in Features

People’s Pharmacy: Readers debate coffee-cup quandary

Joe And Teresa Graedon

Q. I am sick and tired of reading about germs in restaurants or coffee shops. I think this is all much ado about nothing. If you are that worried about germs, you shouldn’t eat out.

I eat out a lot, in all types of restaurants, and the only thing that has ever made me sick was a mayonnaise sauce that wasn’t kept at the right temp.

Here’s the truth: A lot of people touch your food before it gets to your plate. It’s not a big deal.

A. You are right that it’s impossible to avoid germs. On the other hand, we should expect food and beverage handlers to be careful. Here’s another reader’s response:

“After reading your column about baristas palming coffee lids and transferring germs, I was reminded of an experience I had. I frequently bought coffee and kept getting impetigo [a staph or strep infection] on my upper lip.

“I racked my brain as to how or why I kept getting recurring infections after clearing them up with a prescription ointment. Finally it dawned on me that the barista was handling money and then my lid. I began ordering no lid (which is against company policy) or replacing it if they wouldn’t comply. I haven’t had any infections since.”

Q. Do you have a diet for helping me survive omeprazole detox? Your book alerted me to the dangers of the drug, and I want to end my dependence on this heartburn medicine.

When I forgot to take omeprazole two days in a row, I experienced hell. I tried to stop the drug earlier, but could only make it one week before the heartburn became unbearable. Now I can’t be off it for one day without wanting to die.

A. People who take powerful acid-suppressing drugs such as omeprazole (Prilosec), lansoprazole (Prevacid) and esomeprazole (Nexium) often have difficulties with rebound acidity if they stop suddenly. A study done in healthy volunteers without heartburn showed that exposure to this kind of medicine can precipitate symptoms such as indigestion and acid regurgitation (Gastroenterology, July 2009).

Make sure to check with your doctor before you stop this medication. To get off it, you will want to taper down gradually. There are instructions for a six-week plan and a recipe for Persimmon-Ginger Tea to ease heartburn in the Guide to Digestive Disorders we are sending you.

Anyone who would like a copy, please send $3 in check or money order with a long (No. 10), stamped (61 cents), self-addressed envelope to: Graedons’ People’s Pharmacy, No. G-3, P.O. Box 52027, Durham, NC 27717-2027. It also can be downloaded for $2 from our website:

Q. My dad recently died after going into the hospital for pneumonia. It was discovered he had lung disease due to taking amiodarone for many years. He was never warned about the side effects from this drug. He was otherwise a very healthy man. Does the Food and Drug Administration keep track of how many people die after taking this drug?

A. We are very sorry to hear about your father’s tragic death. Amiodarone is a heart medicine that can cause many serious lung complications. Your father should have been alerted to this danger.

The FDA allows doctors and patients to report adverse drug events through its MedWatch ( reporting system.

E-mail to Joe and Teresa Graedonvia their Website:

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