Wine and sleep aids not a health­ful mix

The Western Star - - LIFE - Keith Roach To Your Good Health

DEAR DR. ROACH: I write to you to try to un­der­stand the ef­fects of com­min­gling large amounts of wine — nor­mally a bot­tle or more — then tak­ing a cap­ful of over-the-counter sleep medicine. He is 78 years old, in EX­CEL­LENT health. The wine revs up his mind, so he takes the sleep aid. It wor­ries me that this could be harm­ful. He some­times wakes up with feel­ings of ver­tigo in morn­ing. I at­tribute the cause to the mix­ing of the above. He doesn’t lis­ten to my worry. What, if any, are the ef­fects of do­ing the above? — K.S.

AN­SWER: It’s the wine that is a big is­sue. A bot­tle or more of wine is far above the thresh­old of dan­ger­ous drink­ing for health. With that much reg­u­lar al­co­hol in­take, even small amounts of some over-the-counter med­i­ca­tions can be­come more dan­ger­ous, es­pe­cially at age 78, when some of the body’s sys­tems do not act as quickly as they once did.

A cap­ful doesn’t sound like much, but for most liq­uid OTC med­i­ca­tions, 1 ta­ble­spoon is 25 mg of diphen­hy­dramine. This can in­deed cause ex­cess se­da­tion on top of the al­co­hol. It is es­pe­cially true for some­one who is 78 years old. Ver­tigo in the morn­ing sounds like his body’s way of try­ing to tell him he’s get­ting too much.

DEAR DR. ROACH: In your re­cent an­swer re­gard­ing proper hand-wash­ing, you stated, “These germs are not killed by the gel and need to be washed off the hands with warm, soapy wa­ter for at least 20 sec­onds.”

My ques­tion is why “warm” wa­ter is nec­es­sary. For the tem­per­a­ture of the wa­ter to have any ther­a­peu­tic ef­fect, it would have to be too hot to tol­er­ate. The pro­ce­dure of wash­ing one’s hands with wa­ter and soap, me­chan­i­cally, re­moves germs. The tem­per­a­ture is im­ma­te­rial. Aside from com­fort, is there any rea­son to use warm wa­ter?

I would hate to think that some­one would forgo wash­ing be­cause only cold wa­ter was avail­able. — D.G.

AN­SWER: Warm wa­ter is bet­ter able to dis­solve par­ti­cles on the hands. The tem­per­a­ture is not de­signed to kill the bac­te­ria.

How­ever, it turns out that wash­ing your hands with any tem­per­a­ture wa­ter (cold, warm or hot) is just as ef­fec­tive, at least in terms of get­ting rid of bac­te­ria. Wash­ing in too-hot wa­ter can cause ir­ri­ta­tion to the skin, but you can use what­ever tem­per­a­ture you like, for at least 20 sec­onds. I thank D.G. for ques­tion­ing con­ven­tional wis­dom.

DEAR DR. ROACH: As a vege­tar­ian, I de­cided to take a B com­plex vi­ta­min pill three times per week. These pills con­tain very large amounts of var­i­ous vi­ta­mins, e.g. 6,667 per­cent of thi­amine, 1,176 per­cent of ri­boflavin, 125 per­cent of niacin, 250 per­cent of vi­ta­min B-12, etc. Do veg­e­tar­i­ans need these vi­ta­mins in a pill form? Do these amounts do me more harm than good, keep­ing in mind that I take only one pill three times per week? — K.S.

AN­SWER: Be­ing a vege­tar­ian of­ten is an ex­cel­lent choice for health; how­ever, peo­ple who are strictly ve­gan will not get ad­e­quate vi­ta­min B-12 with­out tak­ing sup­ple­ments. Veg­eta­bles are good sources of other B vi­ta­mins, so just the B-12 is needed. More than 100 per­cent of the B-12 is not harm­ful. If you no­tice your urine is yel­low/green, that’s your body just get­ting rid of the ex­cess of the other B vi­ta­mins in the tablet, es­pe­cially the thi­amine.

The B-12 dose you’re tak­ing is fine for three times a week. Many veg­e­tar­i­ans take larger amounts, but it is not usu­ally nec­es­sary.

Dr. Roach re­grets that he is un­able to an­swer in­di­vid­ual let­ters but will in­cor­po­rate them in the col­umn when­ever pos­si­ble. Read­ers may email ques­tions to ToYourGoodHealth@med.cor­nell.edu or re­quest an or­der form of avail­able health news­let­ters at 628 Vir­ginia Dr., Or­lando, FL 32803. Health news­let­ters may be or­dered from www.rb­ma­mall.com.

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