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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: When I had my medications refilled, I received a printout that advised, "Store at room temperature away from moisture and sunlight." When I questioned the pharmacist, she told me that the moisture in a bathroom may lessen the effectiveness of medications. She said this is true for both prescription and nonprescription drugs.

This was news to me! I have always kept my medications in the medicine cabinet in my bathroom. Isn't that what the cabinet is for? -- QUESTIONING OLD HABITS, MONROE, N.C.

DEAR QUESTIONING: Most pharmacists agree that the bathroom "medicine" cabinet is NOT the best place to store medications, because the varying temperature and steam can adversely affect them. Since most prescription drugs are taken around mealtime, a wiser choice would be to keep your medications in the kitchen -- away from direct sunlight, heat and children -- and reserve the medicine cabinet for toiletries.

DEAR ABBY: As a passport acceptance agent, I would like to inform the public of a beneficial aid for distressed parents who are concerned that the other parent might steal their child out of the country.

A parent may file a Denial of Passport by notifying The Office of Passport and Advisory Services, 111 19th St. NW, Suite 260, Washington, D.C. 20524-1705. The written request must be accompanied with required information, including the appropriate court order document. Further information may be obtained by calling (202) 736-7000. If there is a possibility that the child has dual nationality, that country's embassy or consulate should be contacted to inquire about denial of that country's passport. -- GERI BROOKS, THURSTON COUNTY CLERK, OLYMPIA, WASH.

DEAR GERI: Thank you for volunteering this helpful, possibly vital information. It's heartbreaking that anyone should need it, but I hope it will bring readers with custody issues some peace of mind.

DEAR ABBY: I would like to correct a statement made by a reader in one of your recent columns. The writer was Thomas E. Smith, Ph.D.

It is not "many" medical professionals who deny that chronic fatigue and immune dysfunction syndrome (CFIDS) is a real disease, but MOST of us who hold this view -- and for good reason. There is no evidence whatsoever for the misguided belief that these unfortunate patients have a problem with their immune systems. All the reliable evidence indicates that they suffer from depression.

However, many people still do not accept the idea that the body may be affected by the mind, and the mind by the body. Depression untreated surely causes as much suffering as any other disease. Fortunately, we now have medications that more effectively treat symptoms of depression -- one of which is fatigue. Even those few physicians who do believe in the existence of CFIDS treat such patients with anti-depression medications. -- EUGENE SCHOENFELD, M.D., PSYCHIATRIST, AUTHOR AND COLUMNIST, SAUSALITO, CALIF.

DEAR DR. SCHOENFELD: Other physicians have written to echo your sentiments on this subject. However, whatever the cause of CFIDS, it is a real disease to those who suffer from it, and whatever method is used to treat CFIDS, if it works, then I am for it.

Abby shares more of her favorite, easy-to-prepare recipes. To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, More Favorite Recipes, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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