DEAR ABBY: A couple of weeks ago, my grandfather was having chest pains. He has a history of heart problems, and had been prescribed nitroglycerin pills for emergencies. Unfortunately, the pills had expired long ago. My grandfather knew it and took two to make up the difference. It didn't, so he took two more. Abby, my grandfather took six pills within a half-hour and was feeling progressively worse. He called my grandmother and asked her to call 911.
A few hours later, we learned that he had suffered a severe angina attack. It didn't damage his heart, but he could have avoided a hospital stay if the pills he had taken were still potent. Some people might think that the expiration date stamped on the bottle is a "guideline" or just a way for the pharmacy to make money. As my family learned, this assumption is wrong.
Please tell your readers the importance of checking the expiration dates on their medications, and that the pills are not good after the expiration date -- even if the bottle is unopened. -- ALLEN BOUCHARD, CUMBERLAND, R.I.
DEAR ALLEN: I'm passing the word along -- with a little advice from a pharmacist at the Mayo Clinic: Many medications are relatively stable, but it's probably a good idea to discard medications that have been in the patient's possession for more than a year. Nitroglycerin is an exception, however, because it can deteriorate even more rapidly. Because of this fact, pharmacists will dispense this medication in the original bottle from the manufacturer -- which has an airtight seal under the cover.
This is the reason it's not a good idea for patients to transfer nitroglycerin tablets to any other kind of pillbox or container. Once the seal on the bottle is broken, it's wise to get a new supply of the drug after three to six months and to discard the old bottle -- particularly if the medication has been exposed to heat and humidity. This is usually not a hardship for the patient, as nitroglycerin is a fairly inexpensive medication.
DEAR ABBY: I am 13 years old and in the eighth grade. Last year, a new guy moved to our school. When I first saw him, something clicked! I fell for him instantly. I mean, I knew I liked him before I even talked to him.
When he found out I was interested, he said he thought I was cute and he'd like to get to know me better. Then school was out.
Now, we're back in school, but the only time I get to see him is at lunch for about 30 minutes. He's always turning around and looking at me and smiling, but we haven't even talked to each other!
What should I do? Write him a letter? Talk to him? Wave? Please help! -- IN LOVE IN KENTUCKY
DEAR IN LOVE: Chances are that he feels the same way about you -- that's why he keeps turning around and looking at you. But don't put anything on paper. The next time he turns around and smiles at you, smile back. Say "Hi," and ask him what he thought of last Friday's football game, or some other school activity. Listen attentively. That will break the ice and perhaps get the ball rolling.
What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS, and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)
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