Q: After many years, my wife and I suspected problems related to her Nexium and my Prilosec. We both opted for probiotics instead.
That was four years ago. We had no trouble quitting, and we have not had heartburn since starting a probiotic regimen.
I am no longer diagnosed with Barrett’s esophagus. We use a product that has more than 60 billion organisms per dose, including 10 strains of bacteria plus a prebiotic.
A: The importance of the bacteria living in the digestive tract has become increasingly clear in recent years. A diverse collection of bacteria is usually associated with good overall health.
Recent research has shown that people who consumed a specific probiotic yogurt every day changed their bacterial balance and reduced their problems with indigestion (BMJ Open Gastroenterology online, Sept. 16, 2016).
The field of probiotic therapy is still developing. We look forward to a time when doctors will be able to specify which probiotic strains will be most helpful for a particular digestive problem.
Q: I have been washing my hands obsessively and have been very careful not to touch my face. But many people around me have been sick with the flu, including a co-worker who dragged herself into the office despite a high fever.
I started with a little tickle in my throat Monday night, and by Tuesday morning I was really sick with fever, aches, chills and a terrible headache. I went straight to the doctor and was prescribed Tamiflu, which I immediately started taking.
I was too sick to do anything but try to sleep for two days. By the end of the second day, though, the fever was gone, and I started to feel a bit better. The next day, I felt well enough to go to work, and I was completely recovered the day after. Thank goodness for Tamiflu! Many of my co-workers were out a lot longer.
A: Oseltamivir (Tamiflu) can shorten a bout of the flu by up to a day and a half. That may not sound like much, but it makes a difference when you feel as terrible as you did. A recent review from Germany concluded that “The benefits of antiviral drugs … outweigh their risks” (Deutsches Arzteblatt International, Nov. 25, 2016).
The most common side effects of Tamiflu include digestive-tract upset and headache. Some people report psychological side effects. A rash requires immediate medical attention.