Dear Dr. Solomon: When you wrote that you don't have to be an athlete to get athlete's foot, it made me think that you don't have to be a beer drinker to have a beer belly. Since I don't drink beer, and therefore can't get rid of my belly by stopping something I don't do, how would you recommend I do get rid of it? -- Fritz, Claymont, Del.
Dear Fritz: A beer belly (or pot belly) is not uncommon in sedentary individuals whose jobs require them to sit for long periods of time. As a result, the person's abdominal muscles weaken and he or she gradually tends to gain weight.
The formula for getting rid of a pot belly is the same as for losing weight in general. That means reducing the intake of calories, especially fats, and exercising more. In addition to aerobic exercise, an especially helpful exercise is sit-ups, which help strengthen and tone an individual's abdominal muscles.
While excess weight is a health risk for both men and women, the pot belly is more often seen in men. As I have mentioned previously, excess fat around the middle of the body is a greater threat to health than excess fat lower down on the body, where women are more likely to show it.
Dear Dr. Solomon: I would appreciate a discussion as to how someone gets tuberculosis, especially in regard to children. -- Mrs. B.R., Odenton, Md.
Dear Mrs. R.: Tuberculosis (TB) is usually transmitted through the air.A person who may be susceptible to infection may inhale the droplets produced by people with the disease who cough, spit or sneeze. Children may develop the infection as the result of being exposed to someone with TB who lives in the same household.
Most children who are infected with TB don't have any symptoms. Other children may have fever, cough, a poor appetite and night sweats. Since the lungs of children do not harbor as much of the bacteria as do the lungs of adults, children rarely infect other children.
Dear Dr. Solomon: Why would a gynecologist examine a patient under the arms? -- Mrs. J.W., Washington, D.C.
Dear Mrs. W.: The underarm examination is probably performed to determine if there are any changes in the lymph glands.
For Lester, Richmond, Va.: A facial injury rarely poses a threat to life; cosmetic considerations are usually the main concern. According to Dr. David Reiter, director of the Center for Facial Plastic Surgery at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, almost no scar can be completely removed, but there is no time limit on when a scar can be revised or reduced.
Dr. Neil Solomon will answer questions from Baltimore area readers in his Tuesday column in Accent on Health.
To leave a question for Dr. Solomon, call SUNDIAL, the Baltimore Sun's directory of telephone information services at 783-1800, or 268-7736 in Anne Arundel County. You must use a touch-tone phone to be connected. It is a local call and there is no charge to ask your question.
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Readers without a touch-tone telephone can write Dr. Solomon at P.O. Box 36184, Baltimore, Md., 21285-6184