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by Abigail Van Buren

Description of Nasal Spray Stinks to Confused Reader

DEAR ABBY: You recently said that older people should not be ashamed to ask their doctors questions about medications prescribed for them. They should know how much to take, how often to use it, what the side effects are, etc.

I wonder why the instructions that come with some medications are written in language that nobody can understand. For example, my doctor prescribed a nasal spray. The only thing I could understand was, "Shake well before using." Here is a sample of what else came with my medication and instructions:

"Beclomethasone 17, 21-dipropionate is a diester of beclomethasone, a synthetic halogenated corticosteroid. Animal studies show that beclomethasone dipropionate has potent glucocorticoid and weak mineralocorticoid activity.

"The effects of beclomethasone dipropionate on hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) function have been evaluated in adult volunteers by other routes of administration. Studies with beclomethasone dipropionate by the intranasal route may demonstrate that there is more or that there is less absorption by this route of administration. There was no suppression of early morning plasma cortisol concentrations when beclomethasone dipropionate was administered in a dose of 1,000 mcg/day for one month as an oral aerosol or for three days by intramuscular injection."

Abby, there is much more that I cannot understand, but this should give you a general idea of what I mean. -- JOHN W. EGGERS, SAN DIEGO

DEAR MR. EGGERS: I know exactly what you mean. Such gobbledygook is intended to confuse a person not schooled in Latin.

Don't be embarrassed. Ask your doctor for instructions that you can understand. And if there are any questions in your mind -- ask for clarification.