DEAR DR. ROACH: My husband had a severe case of shingles in October 2013. He still has pain. He was given Lyrica. Sometimes it helps, but his memory is affected. I’m leery about giving it to him. I’ve been giving him ibuprofen, which helps sometimes. Can you give me any advice? — R.C.
ANSWER: Many medicines are used to treat postherpetic neuralgia, the pain that often follows shingles. This pain can be very severe and tends to be more prolonged the older you are.
Pregabalin (Lyrica) is an effective medication for many people, but changes in memory certainly could be a side effect. I would be leery of giving it, too. There are several other classes of medication he can try. If his doctor is uncomfortable trying something else, a neurologist or pain specialist can help. Sometimes, small doses of several medications work better than higher doses of just one.
Giving the shingles vaccine does not help once you have post-herpetic neuralgia, but it can prevent many cases, and most people who could benefit from the vaccine haven’t had it.
Shingles questions are among the most frequently asked. The booklet on the shingles virus answers many of them. Readers can obtain a copy by writing: Dr. Donohue — No. 1201W, Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853- 6475. Enclose a check or money order (no cash) for $4.75 with the recipient’s printed name and address. Please allow four weeks for delivery.
DEAR DR. ROACH: I have been using MSG on my food as a flavor enhancement about all of my life. Some of my health-conscious friends say that using MSG is like putting “rat poison” on your food. I respond by saying putting salt on your food is worse than putting MSG on it. Does MSG deserve its bad reputation? — K.T.
ANSWER: Some people have a sensitivity to monosodium glutamate, an amino acid normally present in food that is used as a flavor enhancer. Symptoms can include headache, muscle aches, nausea and other symptoms. It is particularly well-absorbed in liquid form, such as soups, especially those in Asian restaurants.
If you don’t have a sensitivity to MSG, it is a very safe food additive. It does have some sodium, but in the usual amounts used, does not deserve its reputation.
DEAR DR. ROACH: You mentioned a treatment for ureter cancer called BCG. I would appreciate more information on this treat- ment. — M.T.
ANSWER: The ureters are the tubes that carry urine from the kidney to the bladder. They are lined with the same kinds of cells as the bladder itself. So, ureteral cancer acts in many ways like bladder cancer. Often, multiple cancers are diagnosed at the same time.
Surgery is the standard treatment for ureteral cancer, and the only way for a cure. Bacille Calmette- Guerin (BCG) is a weakened tuberculosis bacteria that is used for some cases of bladder and ureteral carcinoma in-situ, an early, noninvasive form of precancer. It can be very effective, but is not intended to be a curative treatment for invasive cancer. I mentioned it for a 90-year-old man who didn’t want surgery.
To view and order health pamphlets, visit www.rbmamall.com, or write to P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475.