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Ask Doctor Cory.

Dear Dr. Cory:

Why do people get stomach cramps, and how can we treat them? I always get stomach cramps and have to sit out if everyone is playing a game.


Abilene, Kansas

Dear Sara:

The stomach cramp that you might get from running is a very common thing and could have several causes. Pain on the left side may be due to the spleen, a storage place for blood. Because of the extra blood and oxygen needed during exercise, the spleen has to work much harder, so it tightens and may cause a cramping feeling.

Or it may be due to a tightening of the diaphragm (DIE-uh-fram), the breathing muscle just below the ribs. Trapped gas bubbles from exercising just after a meal may also be the cause. If this is the case for you, wait 30 to 90 minutes after eating before you start running.

Whatever the cause, it seems that these cramps happen less often as you get into better shape.

When you get a side ache, stop and stretch. If the ache occurs on the left side, lift your left arm up and over your left ear and stretch or lean to your right side. Then take your right hand and rub the sore area to try to help release the cramp or spasm.

The muscle cramp could also be from not getting enough fluids or not warming up before exercising. So be sure that you drink plenty of water before, during, and after exercising, and warm up beforehand.

Other conditions that cause stomach cramps include constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, lactose intolerance (difficulty digesting milk products), celiac disease, ulcerative colitis, and Crohn's disease. Keep a diary of when, how often, and what you are doing or have eaten when your stomach cramps occur. If the cramps continue to bother you, the information that you keep in your diary will help you and your doctor figure out what is causing them.

Dear Dr. Cory:

How does our heart beat?

Nicole Sorenson


Dear Nicole:

Your heart muscle tightens and then relaxes, causing each heartbeat. When the heart tightens, blood is pumped out of the heart and into the arteries. When the heart relaxes, blood flows back to the heart from the veins. Nerves receive messages from your brain to control your heart rate. Your heart pumps blood to every part of your body, from your head to your toes. Without a heart, your body cells would not get the food and oxygen they need to live.

Dear Dr. Cory:

Why do we get lung cancer?


Guys Mills, Pennsylvania

Dear Sierra:

Most people get lung cancer because they smoke cigarettes. Breathing in harmful chemicals from other people's cigarette smoke or from air pollution can also cause cancer cells to grow in the lungs.

Certain diseases, such as tuberculosis (TB) leave scars on the lungs and increase cancer risk. Other people might get lung cancer because they work in places that use dangerous materials. Some examples are arsenic, ether, chloride, nickel, vinyl, and coal products.

You cannot catch lung cancer from another person.

Your friend,

Cory SerVaas, M.D.

Illustration by Kathryn Mitter

Send your health questions to: "Ask Doctor Cory" Children's Playmate P.O. Box 567 Indianapolis, IN 46206

Or e-mail your question to: This column does not replace your doctor's advice.
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Author:SerVaas, Cory
Publication:Children's Playmate
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 1, 2005
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