As one of the original team of professionals to join Health24's online expert service, the Pharmacist has answered a large share of more than 250 000 questions sent in by our readers to date. Read the most frequently-asked questions, and if they don't cover what you need to know, then send your question in to the Pharmacist.
Q: Is there a generic for Roaccutane, and is it just as effective? Also what are the side effects?
A: Yes, there are. Examples include Oratane and Acnetane. Main things to be aware of - stay out of direct sunlight, treat skin dryness as needed, prevent pregnancy and avoid excessive alcohol intake.
Q: What is the best medicine for haemorroids - I am using ice and Preparation H as I cannot go for surgery.
A: Try getting some ANUGESIG from your pharmacy. Your doctor can also prescribe a product such a SCHERIPROCT which may make a big difference.
Q: What is the best medicine for flu/allergy. I believe in Adviral CS and ACC200 as I sneeze a lot and get a sore throat.
A: If you have an allergy then a tablet containing an antihistamine such as DEMAZIN NS would be a better option. However, this does not contain a painkiller like advil and some nurofen (200mg) would be a useful addition to your treatment. ACC200 is always a good idea to "dissolve" stubborn mucus.
Q: I have been taking Cilift for 2 months now and I have gained 3 kg so far, having not changed my eating habits at all. I managed to lose 20 kg's just lately and I don't want to gain it back. Another thing is that my libido is non existant! Is there another product I can ask my doctor to prescribe, or do all antidepressants have the same side effects?
A: Weight gain is relatively low with SSRI's such as Cilift (compared to other types of antidepressants) and, unfortunately, the low libido is also a well-known adverse effect.
Q: I have been suffering from candida for years, what is a good probiotic that I can use?
A: ProbiFlora is a good one.
Q: I was wondering if there is a generic for Zoloft, and will it work exactly the same? Also, I get sores on my tongue regularly – they are very painful, white and come in groups? What could this be?
A: Yes, there are various generics avialable for Zoloft - ask your pharmacist to substitute with Serdep, Serlife, Sertzol, or any of the other relevant generics available.
These may be mouth ulcers and you can cry applying DYNEXAN gel to the sores.
Q: Is there any medication that could help me to not always feel tired, is it a lack of vitamins? I wake up tired and go to bed tired and it's starting to affect my daily life and relationships.
A: I'd suggest Staminogro together with and added Fish oil or Omega oil supplement. Give it a try for 8-10 weeks, and then decide whether you want to stay on it.
Q: I need advice: my Dr prescribed Aspen lamzid (antivirals) after I was exposed to HIV. I have been taking them for 4 weeks and I have developed a continual headache. Is this a side-effect for this medication or is it because I'm I might be HIV positive- I have also heard that headache is a early HIV infection symptom.
A: Headache is very common with this medication.
Whether it may be early HIV symptoms, I cant say - about two-thirds of people who become infected with HIV develop some early symptoms, usually two to four weeks after they were infected. This illness is termed "acute retroviral syndrome" or "primary HIV infection." The syndrome is similar to the flu. The most common symptoms are fever, sore throat, swollen lymph nodes and a rash. The rash usually consists of small raised or flat lesions scattered all over the body, sometimes on the palms and soles. Ulcers can also develop, particularly in the mouth, but sometimes on the skin and genitals.
Because this syndrome closely resembles a variety of harmless viral illnesses, it is not usually recognized as HIV infection. And because it occurs so early after infection, typical lab tests do not help pinpoint the cause. The ELISA test, the most common HIV test, detects the body's own disease-fighting antibodies to HIV. Because it takes time for the immune system to create these antibodies, the ELISA test is typically negative during the acute retroviral syndrome. (For more information about HIV tests, see my column on Confidential AIDS/HIV Testing.)
Q: The neighbours' child was burned with hot liquids. The parents took him to hospital where they covered the burns with plastic dressing and bandage, but they didn't give the parents any ointment or medication to bring home. What must we do?
A: Get some SILBECOR ointment from your pharmacy to apply to the wound to prevent infection. BurnAid Gel is a cooling/healing gel that will also sooth a lot.
(Joanne Hart, Health24, May 2010)