Q: A while back, you wrote, "You as the patient have the ultimate responsibility for quality control" of your prescription.
That's so wrong! I can't read the doctor's scribble, and besides, it's usually in Latin. If we can't read it, we can hardly be responsible for knowing if the drug is correct.
A. If you don't want to take the wrong medication, you may need to step in at the very beginning of this process. Tell your doctor you want a prescription you can read, and that you need to know how to take it. Write his instructions down, so you can check them against what's written on the prescription bottle you get at the pharmacy.
Medical educators maintain that there's no excuse for illegible prescriptions and Latin abbreviations. It shouldn't take more than a minute for a doctor to print a prescription legibly in English. If it does, perhaps he or she should use a computer instead of a prescription pad.
Q: My family has switched almost entirely to using sea salt in cooking. Are we now at greater risk of developing a goiter because we're not using iodized salt?
A: You are correct that sea salt contains minimal iodine. If you don't get iodine from other sources, you might develop a goiter — an enlarged thyroid gland that is working overtime to produce thyroid hormone.
The recommended dietary allowance of iodine is 150 micrograms per day for an adult. You can get adequate amounts by eating fish (cod, haddock, perch, shrimp, etc.), dairy products or baked potato. Kelp (seaweed) is highest in iodine, but this is an acquired taste. Many multivitamins contain iodine.
Q: I've been reading about a study of niacin for cholesterol. The study was stopped after several people had strokes. I could not find out what dose was given.
I take 1,500 mg daily of nonflush, over-the-counter niacin. Should I stop taking it? Any information you have would be extremely helpful.
A: The study you refer to was called AIM-HIGH. It involved roughly 3,500 people with heart disease who had high levels of triglycerides (bad blood fats) and low levels of good HDL cholesterol.
All the subjects in the trial were taking simvastatin (up to 80 mg) to lower their cholesterol. About half also received extended-release niacin at a dose of either 1,500 or 2,000 mg/day. There was no benefit from adding niacin to simvastatin, and there was a slightly increased risk of stroke. Since you are not taking a statin, the findings of this study may not apply to you.
The investigators emphasize that people taking niacin should not stop without consulting their physicians.
In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Send questions to them via peoplespharmacy.com.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times