Health Buzz: Johnson & Johnson Recalls Epilepsy Drug

Tricks to ease headache pain; easy ways to load up on healthy omega-3 fats.

By + More

Johnson & Johnson Recalls Epilepsy Drug Amidst Reports of Foul Odor

Nearly 60,000 bottles of Johnson & Johnson's epilepsy drug Topamax were recalled Thursday, following consumer complaints of a foul odor. The healthcare giant received four reports of an odor believed to be caused by the chemical TBA, or tribromoanisole, according to a company statement. TBA, which is not considered toxic, is a byproduct of a preservative applied to shipping pallets. No serious health problems were associated with the recall, the company said, though the odor can cause temporary gastrointestinal symptoms. People taking Topamax—which is prescribed as an anti-seizure medication for epilepsy and to prevent migraine headaches—should return the pills to their pharmacy if they notice a strange odor. The recall is the latest in a string of manufacturing problems for Johnson & Johnson: Over the past 15 months, the company has recalled more than 300 million bottles and packages of children's and adult medications.

  • Still No Solution to Tainted Tylenol Problems
  • 3 Non-Drug Alternatives to Children's Medications
  • Headache Relief: 6 Tricks to Ease the Pain

    By one estimate, 1 in 25 adults and almost as many teenagers have at least as many days with headaches as without them. Many veterans of chronic headaches know exactly what will trigger the pain or make it more likely to happen, and take precautionary steps. They may avoid certain foods. They may take up yoga to offset stress at work. If sensitive to strong odors, they may ask friends and family to go light on perfume. Now researchers are learning that overall health is critical, too.

    A study published last year in Neurology links headaches with unhealthy lifestyle in teens, a group for which little data exists. Researchers in Norway looked at the relationship between three factors—smoking, weighing too much, and exercising too little—in adolescents ages 13 to 18. They found that any of those factors increased the likelihood of frequent headaches (by about 30 percent). Teens who fit all three categories were more than three times as likely as teens with no factors to be candidates for frequent headaches. There's no reason to think the results would not apply to adults. So both adults and adolescents can find headache relief by:

    1. Exercising more. Thirty minutes of walking, biking, or other moderate physical activity at least three times a week is good for managing headaches, says Richard Lipton, a neurologist at Montefiore Medical Center in New York. Exactly how exercise helps isn't clear, he says. It may reduce stress, a recognized cause of headaches. Following treadmill and other aerobic workouts, participants in a small Turkish study reported fewer and milder migraines, which researchers think was due to the rise in pain-fighting endorphins from the exercise. Getting fit, moreover, improves well-being and staves off other chronic conditions, including diabetes and cardiovascular disease, which research has also linked to headache. [Read more: Headache Relief: 6 Tricks to Ease the Pain.]

    • 5 Classes of Drugs Used to Treat Migraines
    • Dealing With a Migraine Like Janet Jackson's
    • 8 Easy Ways to Load Up on Healthy Omega-3 Fats

      Filling up on omega-3 fatty acids does a body good. These polyunsaturated fats, which play a crucial role in how your body's cells function, have been shown to reduce harmful inflammation that could lead to heart disease, decrease triglyceride levels and blood pressure, and prevent fatal heart arrhythmias. Your body can't produce omega-3s, though, so you've got to be diligent about making sure your diet provides them. The good news is the fatty acids hide in tons of foods, like beans, certain oils and veggies, and—as you probably know—seafood. Take a look at these favorite sources.

      Seafood. You should eat fish a couple times a week. The federal government's latest dietary guidelines, released in early 2011, suggest a specific amount—8 ounces a week—to get an average total daily intake of 250 mg. of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), two main types of omega-3s.