Q: In the past, when I would get the hiccups, they would last all day, off and on, no matter what I did. One day I was having a really persistent bout and thought, “I wonder what would happen if I took some Rolaids?”

I popped a few flavored Rolaids into my mouth, crunched them down and shazam — within seconds, the pesky, annoying hiccups were gone. It has worked for me several times since, and it’s a real relief.

A: We have been writing about hiccup remedies for decades. Most are based on personal experiences like yours, but occasionally we’ll spot something in the medical literature. The first we found was in the New England Journal of Medicine, Dec. 23, 1971. A doctor tested a spoonful of white sugar on 20 patients with persistent hiccups and reported that 19 got quick relief from their hiccups.

We suspect that sugar, like your Rolaids, works by stimulating the phrenic nerve in the palate.

This in turn triggers the vagus nerve and apparently reverses the involuntary contraction of the diaphragm. Strong flavors may also play a role.

Q: I take bupropion 300 milligrams XL for depression. I’ve not had any problems with it previously, but the latest bottle smells like rotten eggs.

I called the pharmacy and they told me that some drugs smell and not to worry about it. They said that the drug is safe to take. True?

A: We learned from a scientist who worked at Burroughs Wellcome when the company was developing the antidepressant Wellbutrin (bupropion) that the terrible smell you describe indicates that the drug is deteriorating.

Some people who took Budeprion XL 300, the first generic version of Wellbutrin XL 300, also experienced the unpleasant odor.

We asked readers of this column to send us their Budeprion bottles so we could forward them to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for analysis. The smell was distinctive. We badgered the FDA for five years, and the agency eventually concluded that there were problems with that generic formulation.

Your pharmacy should find another supplier. If need be, you could order brand-name Wellbutrin XL 300 from Canada at substantial savings. You can learn more about generic drug problems and ways to utilize legitimate online pharmacies from our eGuide to Saving Money on Medicines. This electronic resource is available in the Health eGuides section of www.PeoplesPharmacy.com.

Q: I have an ongoing problem with yeast overgrowth on both sides of my mouth. This has been a problem for nearly a year. I’ve seen the dermatologist multiple times, and she diagnosed yeast.

I have tried various topical creams. The only one that does any good is a combination of clotrimazole and betamethasone. The trouble is, she says not to use it long term.

The pills she would like to prescribe either contain titanium dioxide, to which I’m allergic, or cost more than $300. I’m retired and living on Social Security. I can’t afford to spend money on pills that might not work. Please help!

A: It sounds like you are describing angular cheilitis, painful cracks at the corners of the mouth. Yeast overgrowth is often the cause, although sometimes people who have become deficient in zinc, vitamin B2 or vitamin B12 will respond to supplements.

Other readers have reported success treating the cracked corners of their mouths with amber Listerine. This old-fashioned mouthwash contains essential oils with antifungal activity. Because yeast is a form of fungus, this can sometimes be helpful.

Questions for Joe and Teresa Graedon can be emailed through their website, www.peoplespharmacy.com.

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