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People’s Pharmacy: Personal lubricant excels at easing nasal dryness

Oct. 25, 2022 Updated Tue., Oct. 25, 2022 at 6:10 p.m.

By Joe Graedon, M.S., and Teresa Graedon, Ph.D. King Features Syndicate

Q. Some time ago, I read about using personal lubricants in the nose to relieve dryness. I’ve found a soothing water-based lubricant wonderful for moisturizing and cleaning the nose. Hospitals ought to use it for anyone on oxygen. Relief is immediate.

I began using a water-based lubricant during the winter months to relieve dry nose bleeding from forced hot air heating. Previously, I used ointments such as Neosporin in my nose, but such ointments are oil based, dangerous for the lungs and not effective. Personal lubricants are awesome and fast.

A. Several years ago, we heard from a nurse that “K-Y Jelly is what we use on my patients when they have to rely on oxygen with a nasal cannula. I also use it at home during the winter months when we have the wood stove blazing to heat our home. I have also used Ayr Nasal Gel, which is available over the counter in many pharmacies.”

Readers may be more familiar with K-Y Jelly as a lubricant for sexual intercourse. Other water-based lubricants might also be helpful in this completely different application.

Q. I am a retired physician who was also a pharmacist. I believe your answer about hydrochlorothiazide (HCTZ) and diabetes is misleading and may potentially scare patients away from a beneficial medication.

HCTZ may increase blood sugar a few points, but it does not cause a person to become diabetic. According to several studies, the benefits of lowering blood pressure outweigh the slight increase in blood sugar elevation. Please don’t make a physician’s job more difficult.

A. Thank you for pointing out the important role that diuretics like HCTZ play in the treatment of high blood pressure. This drug is frequently combined with other blood pressure medications such as lisinopril and losartan.

Meta-analyses show that, on average, the increase in blood glucose associated with HCTZ is small (Journal of Clinical Hypertension, April 2016; Journal of General Internal Medicine, June 2020).

Most people probably have no difficulties with this effect. For a few individuals, however, it might become worrisome.

We urge all readers to work with their physicians to balance benefits and risks appropriately. The person who contacted us about HCTZ raising blood sugar was able to control both their blood pressure and diabetes with nondrug approaches.

We offer information on the pros and cons of blood pressure medications in our eGuide to Blood Pressure Solutions. This online resource may be found under the Health eGuides tab at

Q. I stopped taking Zyrtec last week and have been suffering extreme itchiness since then. At first, I thought it was due to a change in the weather. Then I did an online search that turned up Zyrtec withdrawal. How long will the itching last?

A. We first heard about cetirizine (Zyrtec) withdrawal itching more than a decade ago. Readers reported relentless itching within a few days of stopping this antihistamine. For some people, the itching lasted up to six weeks.

We contacted the Food and Drug Administration about this “discontinuation syndrome.” Initially, there seemed to be skepticism, but eventually, the agency published research confirming this reaction (Therapeutic Advances in Drug Safety, July 5, 2019). According to Dutch researchers, gradual tapering of the cetirizine dose or a short course of corticosteroids might help alleviate the itching (Drug Safety Case Reports, December 2016).

In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Email them via their website:

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