DEAR DR. DONOHUE: Thank you for the article on the importance of CPR, cardiopulmonary resuscitation. It’s something everyone should know how to do.

Recently, several of my instructors brought your article on CPR to my attention. They were quite concerned that you mentioned several ways in which individuals could learn CPR, but failed to mention the American Red Cross.

I have been taking American Red Cross classes since 1981 and have been an instructor since 1999. I sincerely hope that in the future you will include the American Red Cross as a leader in this education. – D.S.

ANSWER:
The future is now.

Everyone should learn how to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation. It’s not so difficult to learn, and it’s not so difficult to do. Few people pass through life without seeing someone suddenly slump to the ground, unresponsive. CPR can bring those people back to life. Such situations happen in the home and in every imaginable public venue.

The American Red Cross is accessible to just about all, and all should take advantage of its training program. It’s an opportunity to save a life, possibly of someone in your own family.

DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I need your advice. I have a friend who lives in New York. She has discovered that she has bedbugs. Now she is trying to get rid of them on her own. I’ve been trying to tell her she can’t do it alone. I think it can cause health problems. Please advise. – D.F.

ANSWER:
Bedbugs are definitely unappealing – in fact, even revolting – but they don’t spread disease. A tenuous association might exist between a bedbug bite and the spread of hepatitis B, but the association isn’t on firm ground and isn’t accepted by all authorities.

Bedbugs are small, about a quarter of an inch (5 to 7 mm) in length. They live in the crevices of mattresses, bed frames and other furniture. They bite at night and hide during the day. The bite isn’t painful, but it produces a small hive with a tiny red center, and often, the hive itches.

Scratching can introduce bacteria into the skin and lead to an infection. Scratching is impossible to resist.

A professional is the one best equipped to eliminate these creatures safely. Bedbugs often congregate in places that the untrained person wouldn’t suspect. Your friend should call for help.

DEAR DR. DONOHUE: Could my doctor be wrong? I took atenolol for 14 years. For many of those years, I told my doctor that it made me terribly tired and exacerbated my psoriasis. He finally changed me to Norvasc. I had a return to an energetic life, and my psoriasis is virtually gone.

Now my ankles swell, as he said they might. He prescribed hydrochlorothiazide. The dose of Norvasc was 10 mg. My ankles were still swollen, even with the hydrochlorothiazide. I used a pill cutter to cut the Norvasc in half. My ankle swelling left, and the doctor said my pressure was perfect. It was even better than when I had been on the whole pill. I mentioned to him what I had done, and he said I should take the whole pill. My ankles are swollen again. What should I do? – M.G.

ANSWER:
Atenolol (brand name Tenormin) is a beta blocker drug. Beta blockers are a large family of medicines used for many purposes. They can make some people tired, and they can make psoriasis flare.

Norvasc (amlodipine) is a different class of blood pressure medicine. It can cause ankle swelling. Ten milligrams is considered a maximum dose. Five milligrams is a commonly prescribed dose. The medicine also comes in a 2.5 mg dose. If 5 mg controls your pressure and doesn’t give you ankle swelling, that seems to me to be the dose you should take. Tell the doctor again. He shouldn’t make a fuss about this. If he does, ask why.

DEAR DR. DONOHUE: Everyone talks about putting a bar of soap in the bed to stop leg cramps. Are we talking good old Ivory or Dial? — F.M.

ANSWER:
The brand is irrelevant. The soap can be wrapped or unwrapped.

Dr. Donohue regrets that he is unable to answer individual letters, but he will incorporate them in his column whenever possible. Readers may write him or request an order form of available health newsletters at P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. Readers may also order health newsletters from www.rbmamall.com.


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