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Ask Dr. Gott 6/20
Niacin easy to find over the counter
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    DEAR DR. GOTT: I never fail to read your column in my newspaper for your good advice, although your column about niacin being an excellent choice for a nonprescription treatment for cholesterol was rather confusing to me.
    The only niacin a person can buy without a prescription is the nonflushing kind, which does nothing for high-density lipoprotein levels. The one that helps is Niaspan, which requires a prescription and can definitely cause flushing — to the degree that some people can't take it at all.
    Can you please clear this up?
    DEAR READER: Nonflushing niacin contains an ingredient called inositol, which does nothing for reducing cholesterol levels and may prevent the niacin from working correctly. Straight niacin or sustained-release niacin is available over-the-counter and does work toward reducing high counts. Flushing and itching are common side effects. However, taking an antihistamine or 81-milligram aspirin 10 or 15 minutes prior to the niacin or splitting the daily intake between morning and evening may reduce or eliminate the unpleasant side effects. Another option is to work up to a higher level slowly.
    Many readers have successfully used omega-3 fish oil, flaxseed oil or a combination (niacin and one of the oils or both oils).
    A low-fat, low- or no-salt diet is a must for people with high cholesterol levels. See your physician for his or her recommendations. Prescription medications might be necessary to achieve lower readings. Periodic testing of cholesterol levels (and liver enzymes, if you're on medication) should be done to ensure you are on the right track.
    To give you related information, I am sending you a copy of my Health Report "Understanding Cholesterol."

    DEAR DR. GOTT: I'm 79 years old and have a problem with being cold inside my house, despite the fact that my heat is set on 70 F. I've been checked for gallbladder disease, thyroid abnormalities and even had a bone scan. My doctor seems to be at a loss. Do you have any ideas?
    DEAR READER: As we age, we tend to get cold easily. In part, this might be because we are more sedentary and don't get enough exercise to maintain good circulation. Unfortunately, instead of doing something beneficial for our bodies, such as bundling up and walking around the block when we are cold, we just crank up the heat.
    Your doctor has already performed several tests he or she believed were appropriate. Did your doctor consider you might be anemic, have a urinary-tract infection, low-grade fever or impaired circulation? Are you on any medications that might have chills as a side effect? If not, bring this article to his or her attention and ask for input.
    Add an additional layer of clothing, such as a sweater, when dressing, increase your exercise as much as possible and be sure your diet is balanced and nutritious.
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