OTC Sleep Medications
If you often have trouble falling asleep, it’s tempting to use over-the-counter sleeping pills. But the National Sleep Foundation recommends taking them with caution. You should talk with your doctor or pharmacist about any sleep medication you’re interested in taking.
The best approach is to try to figure out why you can’t sleep well. Are you getting enough exercise during the day? Is your bed comfortable? Have you established a relaxing bedtime routine? Do you take naps that are too long? Do you have sleep apnea?
Investigate all of these things before going the sleeping pill route.
Source: American Sleep Foundation
Alternative Sleep Meds
Looking for some “alternative” ways to help you get to sleep? Here are some things you might want to try:
- In small studies, valerian has been shown to decrease the amount of time it takes to fall asleep and promote deeper sleep.
- Some people find chamomile tea, lavender, hops and lemon balm to be helpful.
And be sure that you limit caffeine, alcohol and water in the late afternoon and evening so that you don’t have to get up in the middle of the night.
If you investigate on our own, you may read that kava can help. But recently, kava has been linked to liver damage and is not recommended.
Source: Sleep Med Rev; June 2000; National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Allergy Eye Drops
If seasonal allergies affect your eyes, you may be interested in talking with your doctor about one of the newer eye drops for allergies. It’s called Optivar, and it acts on several different components of the allergic response. Optivar can help reduce the itching, redness and tearing that are so common in seasonal eye allergies.
Unlike many allergy eye drops, Optivar acts on three components of the allergic response. It’s an antihistamine, it stabilizes mast cells and it has an anti-inflammatory effect.
If some of the other allergy eye drops haven’t worked, ask your doctor if a prescription for Optivar is a good idea for you.
Source: National Institutes of Health
Hormone Replacement for Men
As men age, it’s normal for their bodies to produce less of the hormone testosterone. If the levels drop below the normal range, problems can result—sexual dysfunction, fatigue, sometimes even depression. In these cases, doctors may recommend testosterone replacement therapy, or TRT. But most men actually stay within the normal range even after their testosterone levels have dropped.
There are concerns that the medical community does not yet know enough about long-term effects of TRT on cancer and stroke risk. The Institute of Medicine and the National Institute on Aging have created a task force to evaluate the pros and cons of conducting clinical trials of TRT.
If you or your loved one is experiencing a decreased testosterone level or symptoms that indicate this may be the case, it’s important to have a thorough physical examination. If the testosterone level is truly low, discuss with your doctor the pros and cons of TRT. But keep in mind that we have a long way to go before we understand the long-term effects.
Source: National Institute on Aging
Meds not for Kidneys
If you have kidney disease, be sure to talk with your doctor before taking any over-the-counter medications. Antacids are often not recommended for people with kidney disease. And certain analgesics, or pain medicine for things like headache and fever, can pose a risk. Common analgesics include aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, ketoprofen and naproxen sodium.
Medicines that contain a mixture of aspirin, acetaminophen and caffeine all in one pill have been linked to chronic kidney disease in some studies. Regular use of aspirin, especially in large amounts, may be harmful to some people with kidney disease
Acetaminophen is usually what doctors recommend for people with kidney disease, although if you use it regularly you should tell your doctor.
The main message here is that if you have kidney disease, be sure to talk with your doctor about the safest over-the-counter medications for you.
Source: American Kidney Foundation