Q My husband has a serious problem, but he doesn't think so. He is 51 and drinks six or more cans of beer everyday and more on the weekends. He takes wakepills in the morning that he says are harmless because you can buy them without a prescription. At night he takes two or three Tylenol PMs. He is a painter and used to drink starting at 6am. He says he doesn't do that anymore since I caught him doing it. I am very worried about him. Please respond.
A Your husband should be very worried about himself. The amount of alcohol he drinks qualifies him as being an alcoholic. Alcoholism shortens life on average by about 10 years. What excessive alcohol can do to the body is eye-opening
It disturbs sleep cycles, and that's why he's having trouble with insomnia. It affects the brain. Over time, he will notice memory impairment. It also affects the balance centre of the brain, and he will begin staggering even when he has had nothing to drink — not a good thing for someone who climbs ladders to make a living.
It can damage nerves, and the damage can leave him in pain. It can damage nerves that control muscles, and that can leave him weakened. It often inflames the pancreas — pancreatitis, a very serious and painful disorder.
It contributes to cancer of the mouth, throat and esophagus. It often decreases the heart's pumping force and leads to heart failure. It can raise blood pressure.
Everyone knows its effects on the liver. Years of heavy drinking can scar the liver and make it an ineffective organ — liver cirrhosis. Should that happen, the only treatment is a liver transplant.
Your husband needs to read the warning put on all Tylenol products. It says that anyone taking three or more alcoholic drinks a day should not use it. The combination can severely harm the liver. Your husband is playing fast and loose with his life. I don't know what's in his wakepill, so I can't comment on it.
Q My husband drinks heavily several nights a week. He drinks some alcoholic beverage every night. Most mornings, he goes to the park with several friends and walks three to four miles. He believes that because he walks, he is counteracting and sweating out the effects of alcohol. I have tried to tell him otherwise, but he refuses to listen. Maybe he will listen to you.
A Another husband lives in la-la land. Walking three miles a day doesn't counteract the effects of alcohol. Walking 20 miles a day won't do it. You can't sweat out the effects of alcohol. That's a popular myth.
It is usually safe for a man to have two alcoholic drinks a day; a woman, one. A drink is 12 ounces of beer, five ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof liquor.
Q How does one best get rid of outdated medicines? I have been in the habit of flushing them down the toilet, but I have been told I am contaminating the water supply. Is that correct? The person who told me that also told me I should bury them in the ground. That sounds a bit much
A Flushing old drugs down the toilet is not the best way to dispose of them. That practice could contaminate the water supply. Apparently, it hasn't as yet, because many people do flush their outdated medicines in the toilet.
One way to get rid of such medicine is to break all capsules and crush tablets. Then put them back in their original container with its safety top on so no animal or youngster could possibly get to them. To be extra-cautious, tape the container and put it in two bags for garbage pickup.
You could also check the hazardous -waste collection site in your town — the place where you take batteries and dirty motor oil. It might accept outdated medicines.
Sometimes pharmacies accept such medicine. Many have facilities to incinerate drugs. This is done in Australia and in Canada, I think. Canadians will let me know.