Unusual Facts about the Body Explained
Have you ever wondered why you eye suddenly starts twitching or why you start hiccupping uncontrollably and simply can’t stop? According to experts, there are medical reasons for these strange occurrences that happen to us all and what you are about to read just might surprise you.
- What makes your eyelid twitch?
This annoying condition is called eyelid myokymia. For reasons unknown, eye twitches are more likely to occur in the lower eyelid than in the upper, though they’re probably caused by the misfiring of a nerve. Fatigue, stress, and caffeine all increase the likelihood of twitching. So do eyestrain, poor nutrition, excessive alcohol intake, and allergies. Luckily, eye twitching is almost always benign and usually goes away by itself. To stop or reduce the twitching, cut down on coffee and alcohol and give your body a good night’s rest.
- What causes goose bumps?Goose bumps pop up when you’re cold or afraid. When a tiny muscle at the base of each body hair contracts together, they appear as naked bumps on the flesh. They made sense thousands of years ago when humans still had a natural fur coat. Evolution has since stripped humans of their hairy exterior. Now goose bumps are, of course, no medical issue. If you’re uncomfortable showing them off, dress warmly, place yourself in calm environments, and avoid scary movies.
- What causes hiccups?Hiccups are the result of a spasm in the diaphragm, which contracts to pull air into the lungs causing a sudden rush of inhaled air. This sets off a chain reaction causing the airway opening to close quickly which in turn stops the air flow and causes the vocal cords to react by closing quickly. Hiccups may result after eating a big meal, swallowing air, drinking carbonated beverages or a sudden emotional excitement.
- Why does chopping onions make you tear up?When you cut into an onion, you rupture its cells, releasing enzymes that produce a gas called propanethial sulfoxide. Once that gas reaches your eyes, it reacts with tears to produce a mild sulfuric acid. The brain then signals the eyes’ tear glands to produce more liquid to flush the stuff out. The more you chop, the more irritating gas you produce and the more tears you shed. The onion’s chemical reaction is a defense mechanism that evolved to repel pests. To keep crying to a minimum, cut onions that are chilled as cold temperatures slow release of the enzymes.
- What causes brain freeze?“Brain freeze” is the pain sometimes inflicted by devouring something cold like ice cream or a cold beverage, often very quickly. The reaction is triggered by the cold ice cream or beverage coming into contact with the roof of the mouth. It triggers nerves that give the brain the impression of a very cold environment. To heat up the brain again, blood vessels start to swell, which causes the headache-like pain for approximately 30 seconds. The pain can be relieved by placing your tongue to the roof of your mouth.
- Do your ears really continue to grow throughout life?Yes, the outer ears do. Starting at birth, the ears are proportionally, the body’s largest feature. They grow rapidly until about age 10, and then slow at a rate of about 0.22 millimeter per year. Other studies show that the earlobe itself also lengthens throughout life. However, the size of the ear canal, which is formed by bone and cartilage, does not increase into old age.
- What causes the feeling of “pins and needles”?Also called paresthesia, pins and needles are caused by blocked blood flow to a pressed nerve. If you sit too long in an awkward position or even just with your legs crossed you may cause your feet, for example, to “fall asleep,” or go numb. Paresthesia is usually felt in the extremities of the hands, feet, and ankles. That prickly sensation is the resumption of pain messages to the brain. Simply changing your position is almost always enough to allow the nerve to resume communication. If your pins and needles don’t resolve quickly with a change of body position, see a doctor.