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Ask Dr. Gott 1/9
High sed rate a symptom, not an illness
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DEAR DR. GOTT: Since 1997, different doctors and rheumatologists have been trying to regulate my sed rate. It should be about 25 when normal. At my last blood test, it was 106. I've never had a normal rate. My question is, how important is it to have a normal sed rate?
    My current doctor has me on prednisone daily and methotrexate once a week plus weekly blood tests.
    DEAR READER: The erythrocyte sedimentation rate measures the speed with which red blood cells sink to the bottom of a tube in an hour's time. An elevated level (above 25 mm/hr) may be an indication of cancer, an infection or inflammation hidden in the body.
    Your doctor is treating the sed rate, not the cause. You need further testing with some studies and blood work to identify the cause. In short, the sed rate is a sign of disease, not a disease itself. It may be high in a variety of conditions.
    To give you related information, I am sending you a copy of my Health Report "Blood — Donations and Disorders."

   DEAR DR. GOTT: I hope you can stand one more letter on the soap-in-the-sheets topic.
    A few years ago, after having read several different letters from your readers attesting that it really does relieve leg cramps, I decided to give it a try. I often get cramps in the arches of my feet at night, so I took a bar of soap from our bathroom that was open and put it in the drawer of my nightstand so that the next time I woke up with a cramp in my arch, I would have it handy. However, the next time I got a cramp, rather than putting the bar under the sheet, I put on a sock and slipped the bar of soap inside, right up against my arch. The relief came almost immediately. Subsequent attacks yielded the same results, and I became a true believer. I tell everyone who will listen that it really does work.
    Once, I was at a friend's home and got a terrible cramp in my toes, causing them to draw up and cross. Stretching and standing on my foot did not relieve the spasm, so I made a beeline to the bathroom and "borrowed" their bar of soap from the shower. As it was summer and I wasn't wearing socks, I simply sat on a chair and alternated between letting the bar of soap lay on top of my foot and resting my foot on top of the soap. The spasm eased completely within a few minutes. I washed my hands with the soap and returned it to the shower stall.
    Recently, while out of town, I was awakened by a cramp in my shin. I got the hotel bar of soap, lay down on my side and placed the soap directly on the spasm. The pain subsided within a few seconds, and I promptly went back to sleep.
    My brother has been using Vick's VapoRub on his toenails with excellent results, and he now swears by it.
    So, for all those skeptics out there, don't knock it before you try it!
    DEAR READER: Thanks for sharing your experiences.
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