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Ask Dr. Gott 3/13
Actonel causes bad reaction
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    DEAR DR. GOTT: I read your column every day and can relate to the side effects of Actonel, which one of your readers had.
    A couple of years ago, my then primary doctor prescribed Actonel for me due to some bone loss.
    The day after my first dose, I experienced tightening across my chest and low-back pain. The back pain was so severe that I needed help to arise from the couch and bed. I could barely walk and had to use the walls or whatever was near that I could grasp. When I went to the doctor, I had to be driven and needed to use both hands to lift my right leg into and out of the car.
    My doctor found my symptoms hard to believe and gave me medication for my discomfort. The kicker was that I was supposed to take this pill again the following week to see if I had the same reaction. Needless to say, I didn't take it again and told her those pills were awful.
    DEAR READER: Experiences like yours are one reason I that I try to keep my readers informed in my column. A knowledgeable and interested patient is a good patient.
    Actonel, in general, is a beneficial drug. However, it can have serious side effects for some people. You are, unfortunately, one of those few. I recommend that you increase your calcium and vitamin D intake. Over-the-counter calcium plus D supplements are available in most pharmacies and grocery stores. They are relatively inexpensive and often make a substantial difference.
    To date, I have received only a handful of letters like yours about Actonel. Your experience was startling and deserves to be published. Perhaps your experience will help another person. Thank you for writing.
    To give you related information, I am sending you a copy of my Health Report "Osteoporosis."

    DEAR DR. GOTT: I would like your opinion on generic drugs versus brand-name drugs. Is one more effective than the other? What are the differences other than cost?
    DEAR READER: For millions of people, generic drugs are as effective as brand-name versions. But not always.
    In general, the difference between generic and name-brand medications is minimal. They have the same amounts of active ingredients and usually have similar inactive ingredients. However, for some people, these minute alterations can make the difference between an effective treatment and an ineffective one. Many times, the more costly name-brand version can be avoided by simply taking a slightly higher dose of the generic.
    If your generic product is not doing the job despite fine-tuning, talk to your doctor about a trial with the name-brand product.
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