People everywhere are asking, where is the Sudafed and Claritin D? Many of you have searched your local pharmacy shelves looking for the medication to relieve your stuffy nose and sinus pressure only to find empty shelves with a notice stating “Available at the Pharmacy Counter.”

Blame it on methamphetamine, aka meth, crank, or crystal meth.

As law enforcement officers have raided meth labs across the country, they come across certain products to make the drug, ether, methanol and, most importantly, ephedrine or pseudoephedrine. Those last two are the same used for nasal congestion! Without it, meth cannot be made.

So, in an effort to cut down on illegal manufacturing of meth, all products in the US containing pseudoephedrine have been placed behind the pharmacy counter with purchases being closely monitored. Rest assured, you’ll be able to get your medication. Just be sure to bring a photo ID!

Q: Hey, I’m trying to get pregnant, and I can’t afford those expensive fertility treatments. I was looking for something cheaper and a friend told me that taking Robitussin improves a woman’s fertility.

A: Like so many things I hear, there’s no proof that Robitussin or Mucinex, guaifenesin, improves fertility, but some women swear it helped them get pregnant. That said, here’s the theory behind how it works. Poor quality cervical mucus makes it tough for fertilization to occur. Guaifenesin supposedly thins cervical mucus and improves sperm’s ability to get to the egg. If you want to try it, it won’t hurt anything. You only need to take it from day five of your cycle until you ovulate, and you can try 200 mg three times a day. Side effects aren’t common with guaifenesin, but you may notice some mild nausea, diarrhea, or abdominal pain.

Q: I am diabetic, and I check my blood sugar twice a day. My wife goes ballistic if I don’t wash my hands every time. I keep trying to tell her it’s not that big a deal.

A: Actually, it is. Hand washing before monitoring can help prevent infection and improves accuracy of the results. For example, if you don’t wash your hands after handling fruit, it increases glucose levels. If washing your hand is too cumbersome, get an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. One downside is that alcohol evaporation can constrict blood vessels, making it harder to get a sample. Soap and water are still the best.

Q: I have high blood pressure, but I also take ibuprofen for my back, which acts up from time to time. Now I’m being told that my ibuprofen can increase my blood pressure.

A: Unfortunately, that’s true. This is especially a concern for those with uncontrolled blood pressure. Most NSAIDs (ibuprofen, etc) interfere with blood pressure control and are associated with an increase in cardiovascular risk. They may increase your blood pressure readings by approximately 3 to 5 mm Hg. Consequently, patients with cardiovascular risks are encouraged to start with nondrug therapies, such as physical therapy and exercise, weight loss, and heat or cold therapy, for pain. But you can continue to take ibuprofen if these measures aren’t enough. Just monitor your blood pressure.

Q: I have been having some pain in my elbow. I’m guessing it’s tennis elbow, because I play a lot of tennis with my sister. She was telling me that when I go to the doctor, I should ask about nitroglycerin patches. I thought nitroglycerin was for heart issues.

A: Your sister is right. Some sports medicine experts are using part of a nitroglycerin patch for chronic tendinopathy such as tennis elbow. The belief is that nitric oxide from nitroglycerin reduces pain and helps tendons heal. Nitroglycerin patches plus rehabilitation might reduce pain faster than rehab alone. But so you know, nitroglycerin patches are no magic bullet for tendon pain. Healing tendons takes months to years, and the pain may get worse before it gets better. Your best bet is rehab, applying ice or heat, avoiding aggravating activities, stretching, strength exercises, and using braces or orthotics depending on the site of the injury. You might want to use acetaminophen or short-term NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen or naproxen, for acute pain.

Nitroglycerin can cause headaches and low blood pressure. So, report any dizziness or weakness and use acetaminophen for headaches.