Monday, November 01, 2004

Chicken Drugs

Halloween was good last night. Both kids had a fun time, and we got lots of compliments on the homemade costumes.

Since we will be taking a long plane trip around Thanksgiving, and since plane trips are swap meets for respiratory infections, the wife and I thought I should visit the doctor before the trip.

The objectives of the trip were to have the doctor:
1. Listen to my lungs.
2. Look in my nasal passages for evidence of allergies.
3. Recommend whether I should go to an allergist.
4. Prescribe contingency antibiotics just in case I get sick during the trip.

The bit about contingency antibiotics was the advice of the people at the ALS specialty clinic. It's a good one. It never would have occurred to me.

In addition to the lingering remnants of the cough, I still have a bit of the sniffles from exposure to cold air during the Halloween costume party at my son's preschool. (There were three Spidermans.)

My blood pressure continues to improve, and was 128/86. I think the key is the one-egg-a-day limit.

The doc said my lungs sounded good. He looked in my nostrils and my mouth and said I do have some evidence of allergy. I asked how he could tell the difference between allergy and cold, and he said that a cold makes things red and swollen, and an allergy makes them pale. He said I'm pale.

He said the sequential steps for dealing with suspected allergies are as follows:
1. Ignore it.
2. Try an OTC antihistamine like Benedryl or Claritin.
3. Use a prescription antihistamine.
4. Combine steps 2 and 3.
4. Go to an allergist, who will likely prescribe shots three times a week.

I don't like getting poked with needles, and neither do you. Anyway, the doc gave me a sample of a prescription antihistamine called Astelin. He had me squirt it up my nose then and there. He said that I should feel a difference within an hour. That was an hour ago, and I still feel the same: Slightly stuffy, and when I talk, I tend to wheeze or cough. Same.

He also gave me a prescription for the contingency antibiotics. This time it's Cipro. You've heard of it as the famed protection against Anthrax. But you may not have known that our nation's last line of defense, so to speak, has also been routinely given to millions and millions of chickens in their feed, every day, for years.

In case you have not read Laurie Garret's The Coming Plague, please do so. And you'll know why feeding antibiotics to chickens is a bad, bad idea.

But Cipro is still the champion antibiotic, so the fact that the doc prescribed it to me means he wants to keep me alive. Plus, he knows I am heading to a backwater where simply puzzling out the alphabet, much less modern medicine, is baffling to most people. That’s a joke, Honey ;-)

It appears that the Astelin causes me to cough, a lot. The severe coughing started in the late afternoon after having used the Astelin in the late morning. I applied the stuff one more time in the evening and the fierce coughing continued. I'll call the doc and plan to discontinue.

Nov. 2, 4:00 PM: The doc called in response to my message left with his staff, and said cough aggravation was not a common side effect of Astelin. He agree with my decision to discontinue use, and suggested Claritin. I was coughing like mad while talking to him.
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