>Q. Someone wrote you to complain that fish oil makes him vomit. I take 1,200 mg of fish oil daily. My young, savvy doctor told me to keep the capsules in the freezer to prevent aftertaste. That might help prevent his nausea.
A. Although we could find no scientific support for freezing fish oil to reduce the objectionable aftertaste, many people have found this tactic helpful. We don't know whether it would work for someone who cannot tolerate fish oil.
>Q. My boyfriend and I both wanted to quit smoking, so we asked for a prescription for Chantix about a month ago. The first week was fine, but then things got nasty.
One night, I got upset and tried to kill myself. This is not like me, since I have two young kids. My mother committed suicide, and I never want to do that to them. My boyfriend restrained me, but it took a while for me to calm down.
I was still quite moody, and a few nights later I tried to kill myself again. At that point, my boyfriend bashed my head into the concrete floor, which is totally unlike him.
He stopped taking Chantix after that and soon returned to the loving, caring man that he is. I continued to take the drug and feel suicidal.
Tonight, I looked online to find out more about this drug and found lots of stories from others who have had trouble with violent or suicidal feelings. Doctors really need to warn patients about this.
A. Doctors must caution patients about the side effects of this stop-smoking medicine. You should have been warned about symptoms such as agitation, hostility, depression or thoughts of suicide. If such symptoms arise, the drug should be stopped and the doctor contacted immediately.
>Q. About three years ago, I had radiation treatment for a nodule on my thyroid. Without a functioning thyroid gland, I must take levothyroxine. The doctors still can't seem to get the dose of Synthroid right so that my TSH level will be steady.
As a result, my TSH lab values are either very low or very high, and I feel terrible. I have tried taking my Synthroid at night as well as in the morning, but nothing is helping. I hope you can send me your guide with more information.
A. TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone) is the standard doctors use to evaluate thyroid status. Since your level varies so much, you may want to discuss some other thyroid medications with your doctor.
One reader sent this report: "Taking Synthroid was making me miserable. I read about Erfa desiccated thyroid in your column and got a prescription. I sent away to a pharmacy in Canada to get it.
"Within a few weeks, I felt much better, and in three months, my lab tests showed definite improvement. My doctor did NOT believe it, but I am grateful."
>Q. My dog had major surgery, and my veterinarian is applying granulated sugar on the incision. I'm very impressed with the results.
A. This is a very old-fashioned approach to wound healing. It is inexpensive and may be surprisingly effective (Journal of Diabetes Science and Technology, September 2010).