"Ask It Early": You Ask, Ashton Answers

In the series "Ask It Early," CBS News medical correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton answered questions submitted by viewers and online readers.

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The first question came from a viewer who asked if over-the-counter drugs are as effective as expensive acid reflux prescription drugs.

Ashton said certain prescription drugs, such as Nexium are very expensive. However, she said if you're just having mild symptoms that occur occasionally, over-the-counter medications, such as Pepcid, are usually fine. She added you should always check with your doctor about your symptoms before changing your medications.

"If they want you on the expensive ones, you should probably stay on them," Ashton said.

Another Twitter user asked if the H1N1 flu is being blown out of proportion because many people die from the common flu every year.

Special Report: H1N1 Virus

Ashton said 36,000 Americans die every year from seasonal flu.

"In medicine," Ashton explained, "we always have to plan for a worst-case scenario and hope for the best. We won't know if we've blown the H1N1 pandemic out of proportion until maybe this time next year. But for the 1,000 Americans who have had a death in their family due to swine flu or H1N1, they probably don't think it's been blown out of proportion. So it's all about the perspective you have."

Another question came from a pregnant viewer who has been a vegetarian for 18 years.

She asked Ashton if she should take any additional steps to ensure her baby gets enough protein in the months ahead.

Ashton, who is a board-certified physician in obstetrics and gynecology, said she can continue to be a vegetarian and grow a perfectly healthy baby.

Ashton said, "You need about 60 grams of protein intake a day, and you probably know you can get that from things like peanut butter and tofu -- you don't have to eat animal protein -- but you do want to be careful. And also as a vegetarian, you can have deficiencies in B-12 and zinc."
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