The Doctor Is In And Taking Calls

October 30, 1991|By Greg Tasker | Greg Tasker,Staff writer

WESTMINSTER — An hour passed Monday evening before Dr. Charles Ashburn, one of twophysicians manning the Family Health Questions Hot Line, received any kind of call in his field of expertise -- pediatrics.

The call came from a woman who was concerned about breast-feeding her infant son.

She told the doctor that whenever she feed her 8-month-old son after drinking or eating milk products, he would scream for hours.

"It's obviously some kind of milk allergy," surmised Ashburn, a pediatrician with Green, Scobie and Ashburn at the Washington Heights Medical Center, Westminster.

The woman, one of 15 people who called thehot line, sponsored by Carroll County General Hospital and The Carroll County Sun, told Ashburn that she also was having trouble with her24-pound son eating solid foods.

"She said she has been giving him rice cereal, but it was causing him to have gas," Ashburn said. "Heseems to have a lot of food intolerance."

Ashburn, the father of four sons ranging in age from 2 years to 15 years, recommended the mother continue to try some solid foods. If the gas didn't subside, he recommended she take her son to see a pediatric gastroenterologist.

"I recommended she try some other types of solid foods but also to see a pediatric gastroenterologist," he said. "I'm concerned the babyis that old and can't tolerate any kind of solid foods."

Because there are no pediatric gastroenterologists in Carroll County, the woman will have to travel to Baltimore, he said.

The calls, which came during a two-hour period Monday, ranged from geriatric concerns, such as osteoporosis, to a variety of other matters, including stomach cramps, head twitching and heart problems. Fifteen callers telephonedthe volunteer doctors during the second health hot line. The first, held in August, garnered only eight calls.

"I think there's been anormal cross section of what bothers people," said Dr. Vincent Fiocco, a Westminster internist.

Fiocco, who has been in practice for 28 years, addressed concerns about osteoporosis, a bone disorder, heart problems and head twitching, among others.

A woman who called about osteoporosis, a softening of the bones that occurs chiefly in women after menopause, was concerned the disorder was fatal.

"It's a part of the aging process," Fiocco said. "It's not directly fatal. But it could be fatal if you break your hip and end up getting pneumonia. It's only fatal in that sense."

Another elderly woman called because her husband suffered a heart attack about a year ago and has been in poor health ever since, despite regular visits to a doctor.

"Can he be better? What should he do?" she asked Fiocco.

Fiocco said the man is either doing poorly because he had a massive heart attack or he is receiving poor treatment. He recommended the woman have her 66-year-old husband see another cardiologist for treatment.

"He's awfully young," Ashburn noted.

"That's what I said," Fiocco said. "I'm glad you feel that way."

Even though there were few calls about pediatrics, Ashburn did offer advice to a woman whose three children were having constant coughs.

Ashburn recommended she give them an antihistamine or some other type of allergy medicine.

"It sounded like it might be allergies," he said.

He also addressed other medical concerns, such as numbness in the feet.

Ashburn said a numbness in the balls of the feet is a common aliment of diabetes. Thewoman was a diabetic, and Ashburn said the matter was "something sheshould have looked at yesterday."

The doctor recommended she seekfurther medical treatment.

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