Curious Body Mechanisms

Our bodies are complex systems, and the principles of working of many organs and subsystems remain unknown. However, some of the mechanics we know are kind of weird, and these body quirks seem to be illogical and curious. Wondering why your head is aching when you are eating ice-cream? Or how hiccups work? Welcome to the article!

Image Credit: Alp Aksoy / fr.123rf.com

Ice-cream-triggered pain in the head

Have you ever noticed that eating ice-cream can be accompanied by headaches? The mechanism behind it involves nerves found in the palate, i.e. the roof of the mouth. These nerves react to everything cold applied to the palate. As a result of this reaction, blood vessels get narrower – it’s called vasoconstriction. However, it’s not vasoconstriction that causes the pain: when warm air or something else rewarms your palate, the blood vessels widen, and the opposite occurs – it’s called vasodilation. All these temperature changes affect sensitive nerves and make you feel as if your brain is freezing. Researchers revealed that such pain can be triggered by eating ice-cream too fast or drinking very cold water. To eliminate the pain, just drink some warm water.

Hiccups

The weird hics you experience from time to time are the result of a reflex arc triggering an involuntary diaphragm contraction. In most cases, it’s a consequence of overeating, excitement, drinking carbonated beverages, temperature changes, or swallowing too much air. Common hiccups do not need any treatment, because they disappear in several minutes. However, if the problem persists for longer than two days, you’d better see your GP, as such hiccups can be a symptom of nerve damage or other disease or condition. Most natural remedies have not been approved, though: holding your breath, despite being a widely spread solution, has not proved to be effective yet (officially). There are other remedies which may be useful in some people, such as sipping ice water or gargling with it, and breathing into a paper bag. Still, the recommended strategy is to wait for some time, and if hiccups hunt you for longer than 48 hours, it’s time to see your doctor.

Earwax

Do you still use cotton swabs? If you do, don’t clean the inside of your ears with them: they are designed to remove only the earwax that is not in the canal. This waxy substance is used by the body to keep garbage and other unwanted matter, such as dust, away from the canal, lubricate it, and help protect the ear against invaders, including bacteria, insects and fungi, and water. It consists of secretions of different glands, shed skin cells, and hair. This curious substance should be cleaned very carefully, otherwise you will compact the serumen, and these popular yet often misused tools will push the earwax farther, thus making it block the canal. Most otolaryngologists discourage the practice of earwax removal, so unless it causes problems, limit your ear hygiene to cleaning the external ear!

Eye twitching

So your eye is sending you messages using Morse code again? Eye twitching is a common thing which in most cases does not indicate anything serious: it can be triggered by eyestrain (yes, stop looking at the screen all days long!), stress, dry eyes, fatigue and some other causes, which are experienced by almost anyone living in the modern world full of stress, dry air, caffeine and other risk factors. Eyelid spasms normally do not last longer than several minutes, but if the problem persists, don’t hesitate to visit your GP, as, just like hiccups, it can be a sign of some disease, neurological disorder, or something else.

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