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What is the purpose of that dangling thing at the back of your throat?

Dear Dr. Cory:

What is the purpose of that dangling thing at the back of your throat?

Sara Levy Cary, North Carolina

Dear Sara:

The red thing that hangs down in the back of your throat is called the uvula (YOO-vyoo-luh). It is made up of muscle, connective tissue, and mucous membrane. No one seems to know the purpose of the uvula.

Maybe someday we will discover the uvula's purpose. In past generations, the purpose of the tonsils was not understood. Doctors used to think that the tonsils did not serve any particular purpose, and that they contributed to frequent throat infections. Often children's tonsils were surgically removed. We now know that although tonsils can become infected, they help stop harmful bacteria that enter the throat from spreading to the rest of the body. Today most children get to keep their tonsils.
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Title Annotation:Ask Doctor Cory; uvula
Author:SerVaas, Cory
Publication:U.S. Kids
Date:Jul 1, 1997
Words:142
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