Q. Vaseline is commonly used for a dry nose. But please never, never use petroleum jelly (petrolatum) or anything oily inside your nose. Putting Vaseline in the nose could be life-threatening, as the oil can get into your lungs, and you can’t remove it.
My dentist accidentally damaged the trigeminal nerve in my mouth, and I developed burning mouth syndrome with dry mouth, nose and eyes. I used Vaseline in my nose every night for more than seven years to help me sleep without the discomfort of a very dry nose.
Unfortunately, I developed an incurable lung disease due to the petrolatum. I read the label. It said: “external use only.” Inside the nose is not external, so that was my bad.
I hope my story can help someone using it now to stop before they suffer serious damage. Not being able to breathe well is the worst thing that can happen to anyone, believe me.
A. You are not the first reader to caution against putting petroleum jelly in the nose. An article in the journal Chest (December 2019) describes a case somewhat like yours. The authors note that “nasal application of oil-based products (such as petroleum jelly) for the treatment of rhinopharyngeal dryness” can lead to aspiration and lipoid pneumonia.
Another reader offered a safer alternative: “I have used a wonderful product for years called Ayr Saline Nasal Gel. It keeps the nose from getting dry. I put a small amount on a cotton swab and very gently coat the inside of the nose. It also stops my constant runny nose for a while.”
Q. A few years back, I thought I was losing my memory. Then I happened on an article on B12 deficiency. I started taking some, and, in two weeks I could again recall things. Sublingual (under the tongue) B12 tablets are my life savers.
A. Vitamin B12 keeps nerves and blood cells working properly, so it is crucial for cognitive function. Older adults might not absorb this nutrient from foods as efficiently as younger people. Moreover, some drugs such as metformin for diabetes or PPIs like omeprazole for heartburn can reduce absorption.
You can learn more about testing for vitamin B12 deficiency and the appropriate form and dose of supplements in “Fortify Your Life: Your Guide to Vitamins, Minerals and More” by Dr. Tieraona Low Dog.
If you can’t find it in your local library, you could purchase a paperback edition from peoplespharmacy.com. It is in the Books section of our website. Sublingual vitamin B12 can be an efficient way to absorb this nutrient.
Q. I take six to eight Tylenol Extra Strength tablets a day plus one Tylenol PM at night. Will there be any side effects from this?
A. Each Tylenol Extra Strength pill contains 500 mg of acetaminophen. Tylenol PM also has 500 mg of acetaminophen. Together, you could be swallowing as much as 4,500 mg of acetaminophen daily.
The makers of Tylenol now state: “To help encourage the safe use of acetaminophen, the makers of Tylenol have lowered the maximum daily dose for single-ingredient Extra Strength Tylenol (acetaminophen) products sold in the U.S. from eight pills per day (4,000 mg) to six pills per day (3,000 mg). The dosing interval has also changed from two pills every four to six hours to two pills every six hours.”
Because you have been exceeding the maximum dose for some time, we would encourage you to have your doctor check your liver and kidney function. Too much acetaminophen can be toxic to these organs.
In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Write to them in care of King Features, 628 Virginia Drive, Orlando, FL 32803, or email them via their website peoplespharmacy.com.
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