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Ask Doctor Cory.

Dear Dr. Cory:

Why do we have runny noses?

Hope Fletcher Clarkville, Georgia

Dear Hope:

The nose is lined with a protective, sticky fluid called mucus (MU-cus). It warms and moistens the air that you breathe to help you breathe more easily. Dirt, bacteria, and viruses get trapped in the sticky mucus and are swept out of the nose and down the throat by tiny hairs called cilia (SIL-e-a).

When you have a cold, your body makes a lot more mucus as it tries to get rid of the cold virus. It makes so much mucus that it spills out of your nose.

This is why it's important to drink plenty of fluids when you have a cold so that your body can make more mucus to help keep your nose and airways clean.

People with allergies, like hay fever, also have runny noses. People with hay fever are usually allergic to some type of plant pollen. The plant pollen triggers an allergic reaction, causing body cells to release the chemical histamine (HISS-tuh-meen). Histamine can make you have a runny nose, itchy eyes, a rash, or a swollen throat.

Cold weather can also cause a runny nose. When cold air hits the warm air inside your nostrils, it causes moisture to form that drips from your nose.

Dear Dr. Cory:

I don't know if you have already answered this question, but can you tell me why we have tonsils? I know some people get them taken out.

Gregory Barton Columbus, Ohio

Dear Gregory:

Tonsils are part of the lymphatic system, the system that helps the body fight infection. White blood cells in the tonsils fight infections that enter the mouth by food or air. They help to keep the infection in the throat, rather than letting it spread to other parts of the body.

Tonsils are normally large during childhood. They usually reach their maximum size when a person is around six to eight years old. Gradually they become smaller until they reach about the size of an almond in adults. Tonsils are usually more noticeable when they are red and swollen from infection.

Doctors will sometimes consider taking tonsils out if:

* you get repeated strep throat infections.

* you have frequent throat infections with fever that don't clear up with antibiotic medicine.

* your tonsils are enlarged and continue to stay enlarged, making it difficult to swallow or breathe.

Removing tonsils does not eliminate sore throats. Too often we removed tonsils in the past, thinking the child (or adult) would never get another sore throat infection.

Dear Dr. Cory:

I am seven years old and have a friend named Maddy who had pneumonia. How do people get pneumonia?

Andrea Rita Jenigar (E-mail letter)

Dear Andrea:

Pneumonia (new-MOAN-yuh) can be caused by a virus, bacteria, or by little bits of food or dust that get into the lungs by accident. It causes the lungs to swell with irritation and extra mucus. The person feels awful, with chills, fever, cough, and chest pains. Antibiotics can help cure pneumonia caused by bacteria.

Dear Dr. Cory:

Why is it that when you get the chickenpox once, you never get them again?

Michael Hayes Houston, Texas

Dear Michael:

Chickenpox is caused by a virus. When you are first infected with a virus, your white blood cells make antibodies to fight it. The next time that same virus appears, the antibodies remember how to fight it. They protect the body and usually prevent you from getting the infection again.

It is very rare, but a person can have chickenpox more than once. Some children who had chickenpox before their first birthday may get a mild second case.

There is a vaccine called Varivax that helps to protect against chickenpox. Babies between the ages of twelve and eighteen months can be given this vaccine as well as children who have not yet had chickenpox. Although you may get chickenpox after getting the vaccine, it is usually a very mild case.

Your friend,

Cory SerVaas, M.D.

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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Title Annotation:questions on colds, tonsils, and other topics
Author:Servaas, Cory
Publication:Children's Playmate
Date:Jul 1, 2001
Previous Article:JOKES and RIDDLES.
Next Article:Everybody Is Different.

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