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Ask Dr. Gott 8/29
Pills not being digested
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    DEAR DR. GOTT: I am 78 years old. When I was 76, I developed a cough and mucus in my throat. I have never smoked, so my doctor told me it was from allergies. I have never had allergies before. He prescribed Allegra-D, to be taken twice a day on an empty stomach. I take it diligently, but most times I find the pills still whole in the toilet after having a bowel movement. My husband cleans the septic tank every year and asked me who was throwing away pills. I am too embarrassed to tell my doctor about it. Have you ever heard of this?
    DEAR READER: Cases in which pills are taken and then passed while still intact usually occur when the normal process of ingestion, digestion and expulsion is sped up. For most people, it takes 24 to 72 hours for food to be completely digested, absorbed and then emptied from the body. Another possibility is that you are simply not able to digest the pill.
    Regardless of the cause, you are not receiving any benefits from the Allegra-D because it is not being digested.
    I urge you to discuss this with your physician, who I am sure has heard of similar situations before. Doctors are here to help you; there is no need to be embarrassed, because they have heard just about everything concerning health.
    If you continue to have symptoms, I recommend you see an ear-nose-and-throat specialist. If no physical cause is found, the specialist can refer you to an allergist for testing and treatment.
    To give you related information, I am sending you a copy of my Health Report "Allergies."

    DEAR DR. GOTT: For the past 10 or 12 years, I have been on diltiazem for high blood pressure.
    I read in a book that this medication can cause liver damage, but my doctor does not want me to change to a different drug. He says I have an irregular heartbeat, and this drug is best for my condition. I recently had a CT scan done, and he says everything looks normal.
    Is there something else you would recommend that would be safer to take and still be suitable for me?
    DEAR READER: Cardizem (diltiazem) is a calcium channel blocker used to treat hypertension and certain other cardiac disorders. It has also been shown to increase exercise tolerance for people with angina (heart pain).
    As is the case with many drugs given over prolonged periods, it is recommended that kidney and liver functions be monitored at regular intervals. This can be done through simple blood testing. If you have elevated readings, your physician can either reduce your dosage, eliminate the drug altogether, or switch you to another medication. Keep in mind that all drugs have side effects, and you might be trading one set of problems for another. If your liver chemistries are normal, I recommend you stick with the diltiazem and undergo periodic blood testing.
    Your physician knows you best. It appears he is on the right track and is treating you appropriately.
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