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Ask Doctor Cory.

Dear Dr. Cory:

My tonsils always swell up in the winter. How does the cold weather cause them to swell up and get sore?

Kera Ren

Waldorf, Maryland

Dear Kera:

Tonsils are normally large during childhood. They usually reach their biggest size when a person is around six to eight years old. Then they gradually become smaller until they are about the size of almonds by the time a person reaches adulthood.

Tonsils become more noticeable when they are red and swollen from infection. During the winter months, you are more likely to get colds and throat infections. This is not because of the colder weather, but because you are around more people in closed-in areas, such as classrooms, buses, malls, and gyms.

It used to be a common practice to have the tonsils removed. But we now know that tonsils are an important part of the lymphatic system, the system that helps the body to fight infection. Tonsils contain white blood cells that fight infections that enter the mouth. They help keep the infection in the throat, rather than letting it spread to other parts of the body.

Dear Dr. Cory:

Why do we get chicken pox?

Andrew McGuire

Rochester, New York

Dear Andrew:

Chicken pox is caused by the varicellazoster virus. It can be spread when an infected person sneezes or coughs and sends little droplets containing the virus into the air. Healthy children can then breathe in these droplets and become infected.

Chicken pox can also be spread by touching the little blister-like rash on the infected person and then putting your fingers in your mouth, eyes, or nose. (Another good reason for hand-washing!)

A person can spread the virus one or two days before he breaks out with the rash. After that, he can still spread the disease until all of the blister-like rash has scabbed over. Once a person has come in contact with the virus, it can take anywhere from ten to twenty-one days before he comes down with the disease.

There is a new vaccine, called Varivax, that helps to protect us from getting chicken pox. Babies can get this vaccine between the ages of twelve and eighteen months. Older children who have not yet had chicken pox can also get the vaccine.

Dear Dr. Cory:

I have three questions. Where does digestion start? What are ligaments? And what are the three kinds of muscles in your body and what do they do?

Melissa Thomas

Tinley Park, Illinois

Dear Melissa:

Digestion begins in the mouth. Here, your teeth and saliva start to break down the food you eat so that it can be used by the body.

Ligaments are tough, elastic bands or cords of tissue that hold bones together at the knees and other joints.

The three main types of muscle in your body are skeletal, smooth, and cardiac. Skeletal muscle helps to move our bones. Smooth muscle is found mostly in the organs of the body, such as in the digestive system, and in the walls of the blood vessels (the tubes that carry blood). Cardiac muscle is found in the heart.

Your friend,

Cory SerVaas, M.D.

Send your health questions to: "Ask Doctor Cory" Children's Playmate P.O. Box 567 Indianapolis, IN 46206 This column does not replace your doctor's advice.
COPYRIGHT 1998 Benjamin Franklin Literary & Medical Society, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1998 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:tonsils, chicken pox, digestion, muscles
Author:SerVaas, Cory
Publication:Children's Playmate
Date:Dec 1, 1998
Previous Article:Susan's Red Coat.
Next Article:HENRY and the DRAGON.

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