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Q. I used to crave ice just like a drug addict. The first thing in the morning, I had to have it. I would get a large soft drink and ask for extra ice. I didn’t care about the pop – it was the ice I wanted.

I went to my doctor for a checkup because I felt tired and would get out of breath easily. My test showed that I was severely anemic, with a blood count of six. My physician was so concerned that he called me at home the next evening and told me not to exert myself in any way until they did further testing.

This had happened so gradually that I didn’t realize I was slowly bleeding to death. Further tests showed I had an iron deficiency caused by extremely heavy periods. Iron supplements quickly brought my count up to normal ranges, and my cravings for ice went away immediately. The cravings have never returned, though it has been many years.

A. It is worth remembering that unusual cravings, whether for ice, cornstarch, clay or even popcorn, can be the result of a mineral deficiency. Anyone who discovers such a craving should ask to have iron or zinc levels tested. Usually, as in your case, correcting the deficiency banishes the craving. This is especially important for children who may be eating paint chips, since their craving could lead to lead poisoning (Australian Family Physician, May 2013).

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Q. I read a letter in your column from a person who had a lung infection and asthma. I seem to remember the infection was hard to detect.

The doctor prescribed several rounds of antibiotics to clear it up. Now, the person is free of asthma. I would like to discuss this possible treatment with my asthma specialist. Any information you can send would be appreciated.

A. There is growing evidence that hard-to-treat asthma may be associated with chronic bacterial lung infections (Current Allergy and Asthma Reports, December 2013). This idea is still controversial. To provide you with details you can discuss with your doctor, we are sending you a book we published by Dr. David L. Hahn, about using azithromycin for asthma treatment. The book, “A Cure for Asthma? What Your Doctor Isn’t Telling You – and Why,” is available at PeoplesPharmacy.com.