Q. For several years I have carried a syringe full of adrenaline with me, in case I get stung by a wasp. I have never had to use it, but when I was a teenager I did have a life-threatening reaction to a wasp sting and I was advised always to carry adrenaline. The syringe is now about to reach its expiry date. Is there any alternative to carrying adrenaline?
A. If you once had a serious reaction to a wasp sting, you will always be at risk. The most grave reactions, called anaphylactic reactions, can cause death, and an injection of adrenaline could save your life. Another possibility for you is a course of desensitising injections. For most people with serious wasp- and bee-sting allergies, these injections make it much less likely that they will have an anaphylactic reaction to a sting. But desensitising injections can be dangerous in themselves, and they should only be given by doctors who are experienced in their use. This will usually mean a specialised allergy clinic that has full resuscitation facilities. In the meantime, see your doctor to get a new syringe of adrenaline.
Q. I want to buy a home blood-pressure monitor so I can check my own blood pressure. Can you recommend one?
A. The European Society for Hypertension recently assessed a large number of home blood-pressure monitors. Most of them were found to be inaccurate. They recommended only three monitors for general use. All of these measure the blood pressure in the upper arm. The three best machines were made by Omron: the HEM 705CP, the HEM 713C and the HEM 737 Intellisense.
Recently a reader asked about the interaction between grapefruit juice and drugs. My answer to this question has left a number of readers confused, because I did not make it clear if the effect of mixing grapefruit juice with drugs was harmful or beneficial. By interfering with the body's ability to break down some drugs, grapefruit juice has a potentially harmful effect. The drugs most commonly affected are drugs used in organ transplants (such as cyclosporin), and some, but not all, blood pressure and angina drugs.
Please send your questions to A Question of Health, 'The Independent', Independent House, 191 Marsh Wall, London E14 9RS; e-mail to email@example.com or fax 020-7005 2182. Dr Kavalier regrets that he is unable to respond personally to questionsReuse content