Archive for Thursday, August 22, 2002

Paxil known to cause side effects

August 22, 2002

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Q: No one warned me that Paxil might affect my sexual ability. I suffered impotence for several years until I stopped taking Paxil. Then the problem went away.

Stopping Paxil turned into a nightmare. It took weeks of gradually decreasing dosages to get off the drug, and even then I had withdrawal problems. Fortunately, sexual inability was not one of them.

The company advertises that Paxil is not habit-forming. I'm not sure what "habit-forming" means to them, but if it has to do with withdrawal problems, then they are lying.

If I ever need another medicine for depression, how will I know which one won't cause impotence?

A: Antidepressants like Prozac, Paxil and Zoloft are notorious for affecting sexuality. Impotence, lowered libido and inability to achieve orgasm are possible side effects.

You are quite right that the company states that Paxil "is not habit-forming." But the official prescribing information warns that "discontinuation (particularly when abrupt) may lead to symptoms such as dizziness, sensory disturbances, agitation or anxiety, nausea and sweating."

Antidepressants that might be less likely to affect sexuality include bupropion (Wellbutrin), trazodone (Desyrel) and nefazodone (Serzone).

People are being fleeced for their prescription medicine. I thought the politicians said they were going to look into this situation, but all they think about is getting re-elected.

Q: A year ago, at age 55, I was finally diagnosed as having celiac disease. This is an abnormal reaction to gluten, a component in common grains (wheat, rye, barley and possibly oats). As a result, the immune system attacks the small intestine and can cause dramatic problems.

Doctors think this condition is rare. I myself went through test after test over the years, with nothing definitive found until last year. So have my daughter and son, who inherited this condition.

Research shows that one in 150 adults in this country might suffer from celiac disease. But many are undiagnosed or told they have other ailments such as chronic fatigue, Crohn's disease or irritable bowel syndrome. How many people are taking medications they don't need when the true treatment is a lifelong gluten-free diet?

A: Thank you for your story. Celiac disease is often overlooked. Digestive-tract problems might not be the only symptoms. Other tip-offs include constant fatigue, brittle bones and anemia because nutrients are not absorbed properly. There is a blood test to help with diagnosis.

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