A patient of mine came to my office today for a bladder infection. Besides treating her with an antibiotic, I offered to prescribe Pyridium (phenazopyridine), a pill that decreases the burning with urination.
I always warn patients that it turns their urine orange. I told her that for Halloween today, it was only appropriate!
Not uncommonly patients tell me about their loneliness. Sometimes it’s related to health issues. They don’t exercise going for a walk because they don’t have anyone to go with, or they don’t eat healthy food because they don’t like cooking for one. Other times it just the personal isolation that bothers them. I believe this affects both their mood and their health.
I give my patients suggestions such as getting involved in various social functions, but I do realize it’s not easy to meet new people. I often suggest they read the book Connect: 12 Vital Ties That Open Your Heart, Lengthen Your Life, and Deepen Your Soul by Dr. Edward Hallowell.
I’ve been tempted to play matchmaker for some of my patients, introducing one to another, but would never actually do so, except perhaps in a group setting. It’s just too fraught with risk if things don’t work out. I don’t thing my malpractice insurance covers a broken heart.
The FDA allows some medications to be sold over-the-counter (OTC), generally after patent expiration. Pharmaceutical companies need to prove they are safe to be taken that way. But as more medications become available, the opportunities for confusion increase. I’ve had patients confuse Zantac and Zyrtec. The first is for acid reflux and the second is for allergies. Even if drugs have similar names, a pharmacist usually catches the difference due to the dose written on the prescription. For example, Zantac comes in 75 mg, 150 mg and 300 mg, but Zyrtec is 10 mg. The typical lay person doesn’t know what dosages medications are supposed to be. They just (hopefully) know how many pills to take. So if they don’t read the label, they may take the wrong medication due to getting the names confused.
Anti-inflammatory pain medications are particularly a problem. There are OTC versions (Advil, Motrin, Aleve, etc.) and prescription dose strength versions of those, as well others that do not have a generic version. This class of medications is called non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), and usually people should not take more than one at a time. But not uncommonly I see patients take a prescription one plus an OTC one, not realizing they are similar medications. By doing this you get very little additional benefit, but more risk of side effects.
If you use OTC products, be careful to read the labels carefully. If you are taking prescription medications for the same purpose, or you have any of the conditions they warn you about on the label, check with your physician first.