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fibromyalgia and drugs - sample expanding posting
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Q: For about six months now I have been taking the drug guaifenesin, available over the Internet, for pain and fatigue from fibromyalgia. It has provided me with great relief. Can you give me any information on this medication? What is your opinion of it?
A: Guaifenesin is an active ingredient in a number of cough syrups and allergy preparations. It is thought to act as a "mucolytic" or "expectorant"; it thins out mucous secretions in the airways, making them easier to cough up or blow out, and thus relieving symptoms. While guaifenesin has been on the market for many years, its actual effectiveness as an expectorant is not entirely clear. Recently, guaifenesin has been suggested as a possible treatment for fibromyalgia syndrome, a condition characterized by widespread pain and fatigue. The theory is that guaifenesin might mobilize "toxins" built up within the body and help the body to excrete them. The drug is generally used in doses far in excess of those used for patients with coughs or nasal congestion.The effectiveness of guaifenesin as a treatment for fibromyalgia and its safety at high doses has not been proven. There is presently no scientific basis for the belief that the drug might be helpful. Controlled trials with the drug are reportedly under way, but none are complete; a brief search of the national Medline database revealed no published articles on the use of guaifenesin for fibromyalgia. In short, I cannot explain why high-dose guaifenesin would be helpful in fibromyalgia; it may even have harmful side effects in some individuals. I am glad, however, that you have received some benefit from using it. Patients who are considering a trial of guaifenesin should discuss the matter frankly with their physicians before proceeding and should strongly consider the risks as well as the potential benefits. July 16, 1999
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