Updated: May 19
Discover some curious things that our body does and why.
Have you ever wondered why your body does this or that? What is the purpose of tears? What makes us hiccup? Why do our muscles twitch? Several things happen in our bodies that we might wonder about. The human body is made up of amazingly complex systems, and this blog aims to briefly explain why some things happen.
Let's take a look at these 9 curiosities of our body.
1 - Tears
Have you ever asked yourself why we cry? Or, why do tears come with emotion – is it pain, happiness, or sadness? Tears have several functions, such as protecting the eye from dryness, irritation, and infection. But what about the relationship between tears and emotions?
There are three types of tears. The basal tears are the ones in charge of lubricating the eye. The reflex tears are those that we have when a foreign object, like dust or smoke, gets in contact with the eye. And we also have emotional or psychic tears. These are what most people think of as "real" crying. They are triggered by powerful emotions like sadness, anger, or frustration — but also intense feelings like euphoria or nostalgia. Emotional tears contain higher levels of stress hormone than other types of tears, but it's not clear whether this hormone causes crying or if it results from crying, although some studies have shown that crying can be an effective way to reduce stress levels.
2 - Muscle twitches
Involuntary muscle spasms or twitches (called myoclonus in medical jargon) are quite common in all age groups and are generally nothing to worry about. They can happen in different muscles like in your eyelids, thighs, calves, and arms. The most common cause is simply fatigue or overuse of the muscles involved. Dehydration, caffeine, stress, anxiety, and smoking can also cause them. The spasms or twitches may occur repeatedly over an extended period, but they are harmless, and go away by themselves.
3 - Gray hair
Why does hair turn gray? It's all in the melanin. Melanin is the pigment that determines your skin, eye, and hair color. When you are born, your hair follicles contain pigment cells called melanocytes, which produce melanin. The more melanin that is produced, the darker your hair color is. Over time, these cells die and therefore, the melanin production stops. As a result, strands of new or previously colored hair start to grow out without the pigment. This gives them a white or gray appearance.
4 - Hiccups
We all get hiccups, some people more often than others. Hiccups are the rhythmic contractions of the diaphragm (the thin muscle between your chest and the abdomen) followed by the closure of the vocal cords. The most common theory is that hiccups are caused by irritation or stimulation of the diaphragm. Therefore, anything that can irritate the diaphragm, like a full stomach pressing on your diaphragm, eating or drinking too quickly, drinking something too hot or too cold, smoking, or drinking alcohol, can cause hiccups. So, now you know how to prevent it.
5 - Ringing ears
If you have ringing in your ears, you're not alone. Tinnitus is the perception of noise in your ears. It is a common problem that affects about 15 to 20 percent of people. Tinnitus isn't a condition or disease, it's a symptom of an underlying condition, such as age-related hearing loss, ear injury, or a circulatory system disorder. Although it can bother you, tinnitus usually isn't a sign of something serious to worry about.
The noises can be perceived in one or both ears or the head. It is usually described as a ringing noise but, in some patients, it takes the form of a high-pitched whining, electric buzzing, hissing, humming, tinging, or sizzling. Others say that they hear a whistling sound or a sound like ticking, clicking, or roaring. People even describe it as sounds like crickets, tree frogs, and locusts (cicadas).
6 - Joint pops
Whenever we bend a joint, such as the elbows or knees, the bones and cartilage that make up the joint are pushed against each other and stretched. This produces a little bit of space between them. As we move the joints back to their original position, this space collapses. The collapse creates a vacuum and air is quickly sucked in behind it. The sudden rush of air causes the familiar popping sound and feel.
The popping sound or feeling does not indicate any damage to the joint, it is simply caused by the gas moving around within the joint fluid and capsule. However, some people can produce a louder popping sound than others because they have looser ligaments that allow more movement between the bones at their joints. In addition, larger joints such as knees tend to make more noise than smaller ones, such as fingers.
7 - Weather-related joint pain
Many people find that when the weather is rainy or cold, they experience more pain in their joints. Many theories are trying to explain why this occurs. It is theorized that when it rains or gets cold, the pressure in the atmosphere changes. This pressure change can be significant enough that it causes swelling in the soft tissue of your body, including within your joints. This swelling can put pressure on the nerves, which is why you feel pain in these areas.
8 - Muscle spasms
Muscle spasms, cramps, or the “charley horse” (like people commonly know it) are involuntary muscle contractions. They come on suddenly and are usually painful and sustained. They may be caused by muscle fatigue, dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, and certain medications. But the most common cause of muscle spasms is dehydration and low levels of electrolytes such as potassium, calcium, and magnesium.
9 - Goosebumps
Goosebumps, also known as piloerection, are caused when small muscles at the base of each hair contract, pulling the hair upright and causing the skin to ripple. Goosebumps are typically a response to cold or fear and occur in many mammals. The word "goosebumps" is derived from the resemblance of the skin's bumps to those on a plucked goose.
In humans, the chilling sensation experienced as goosebumps may be caused by either intense emotions or cold temperatures. In some people, however, the reflex occurs when they hear music or see something beautiful.
Your body does many strange things and you probably don't know the reasons for them to happen, like hiccups, muscle twitches, or tears. Some of these strange things have a clear scientific explanation, others have just theories. If you are curious about why the body does any other things, add them in the comments section below to explore them in a new post.
And as always, follow a healthy lifestyle and come back for the next topic.
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