Graedons

Joe Graedon and Dr. Teresa Graedon

Question: Last week I came down with a horrible cough, followed within a few hours by fever and exhaustion. By the next morning, I had muscle aches and figured I had caught the flu.

The weather was dreadful, and I didn’t have the energy to drag myself to the doctor. So, when I saw that the practice had an e-visit option, I used it. I was very disappointed. A doctor I’ve never met responded that I didn’t meet the criteria for treatment because I don’t have chronic heart or lung disease and I’m not being treated for cancer. Instead, he told me to take Tylenol and ibuprofen, stay hydrated and wash my hands frequently. He assured me that my symptoms would probably improve within 10 days.

Needless to say, that wasn’t very helpful. I didn’t want to spend 10 days in bed if I didn’t have to. So I called my regular doctor, who said I should come in to be tested. I’m glad I braved the bad weather. The test showed I had type A flu and she prescribed oseltamivir (Tamiflu). I started taking it and felt noticeably better by the next day. My cough has almost disappeared, and my temperature is back to normal.

I understand that doctors want to make sure you really have flu before they write a prescription. I don’t understand why they would have an e-visit protocol that essentially says, just suffer.

Answer: We don’t understand that, either. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention acknowledges that antiviral medications can be helpful. The agency lists four drugs that may be prescribed to treat outpatients with acute uncomplicated influenza. Two are pills: oseltamivir (Tamiflu) and baloxavir (Xofluza). Zanamivir (Relenza) is inhaled and peramivir (Rapivab) is given by IV injection.

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Question: You have written about “authorized generic” drugs. I can’t find a pharmacy that will fill my prescription with an authorized generic. Can you steer me in the right direction?

Answer: The makers of authorized generic drugs have negotiated agreements with the brand-name manufacturers so that they can use the exact same “recipe.” Sometimes authorized generic drugs are even made on the same production line.

Finding a list of authorized generic drugs can be a challenge, and we don’t know of any list that is complete. However, you will find the best list we could assemble on our website, www.PeoplesPharmacy.com, and in our eGuide to Saving Money on Medicines. Look for it in the Health eGuides section of the website.

Not all medications have an authorized generic available. If you find the drug you are looking for, you will need to ask the pharmacist to order from that manufacturer specifically. Independent pharmacies may be more willing to do this than chains.

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Question: When my hemoglobin A1c hit 13, I realized I needed to make some changes. I started eating a high-fat, low-carb and moderate-protein diet. Within days, my blood sugar dropped to normal.

At my next appointment, my doctor, who had been planning to put me on insulin, took me off my oral diabetes medicine completely. (I’m so grateful to have a doctor who listens.)

My blood sugar remains well-controlled. I am not on a keto diet. I have up to about 100 grams of carbs a day, but almost all from vegetables, no grains. The only fruit is berries. My fats are from avocado oil, coconut oil, meats, full fat dairy, eggs, olive oil and chocolate.

My last lab tests all were within normal range, and the cholesterol numbers are impressive. The HDL is no longer low.

I don’t understand why some people say that it’s hard to stick to such a diet. I’ve never enjoyed food so much.

Answer: Some people with diabetes do extremely well on the type of diet you describe. A three-month-long study in Denmark demonstrated lower HbA1c and blood sugar among people following a carbohydrate-reduced high-protein diet (Diabetologia, November 2019). The control group followed a conventional diabetes diet.

You can learn more about diabetes and diet as well as medications in our eGuide to Preventing and Treating Diabetes.

Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist; Dr. Teresa Graedon is a medical anthropologist and nutrition expert. Questions for the Graedons can be sent to them using their website, www.peoplespharmacy.com, or by writing to the following address: Graedons’ People’s Pharmacy, King Features, 628 Virginia Drive, Orlando, FL 32803.

Columnists

Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist; Dr. Teresa Graedon is a medical anthropologist and nutrition expert.