From earwax to why you get sleep in your eyes, scientists ave delved into your body’s nooks and crannies to uncover fascinating insight into the syrupy and stinky.
You can’t ignore it’s strange stuff, but what is the wax that gets secreted in your ears even there for? Scientists have found that the waxy substance that builds in the ear canals of many mammals, including you, is more commonly known as cerumen. If you thought it was pretty disgusting before, you’ll be positively repulsed to know it’s made up of the stuff that comes from your sweat glands, bits of hair, dead skin and other bodily deposits.
Once thought to be primarily responsible for lubrication, it is also produced to keep insects and other creepy crawlies from making their way into the inner sanctum of your head, and some even claim that has an antibiotic purpose.
Not all earwax is the same either. It might be dry or wet, which is determined by your genes. As a result earwax will also smell different depending on the type of wax you are producing.
Of course one of the big issues is how to remove earwax, and the remedies are many — from hot oil to vinegar and soda. Do you have a specific remedy?
Don’t be shy, everyone does it but apparently you are more likely to let loose on a plane than when you’re feet are firmly on the ground. Apparently flying makes you fart more. The change in pressure creates abdominal bloating and there is really only one way all that air is going to go.
It’s estimated that the average person will break wind at least 10 times every day, expelling about 1 litre of gas. Food that is fermenting produces nitrogen, carbon dioxide and hydrogen and sometimes there are more smelly components. However, when you are up in the clouds the space in your belly grows and that 1 litre of gas now needs to fill around 30 per cent more.
There’s not just discomfort that comes with trying to hold it in, in people over the age of 60 years you could be putting a strain on your cardiac function.
The sweat that leaks out of your body can be pretty revealing. If you are experiencing a strong emotion — like elevated levels of fear — your body’s sweat has the potential to communicate this with those around you, which means there is more to sweat than just ‘evaporative cooling’.
Sweat is made up of chlorides, urea, ammonia, proteins, sugars, potassium and bicarbonate, as well as trace metals like zinc, copper, iron, nickel, cadmium, lead and even a wee bit of manganese. It’s responsible for maintaining your body’s pH balance, regulating fluid movement in and out of your cells and transmitting impulses across your nerve fibres.
This is up there on the ‘yuck’ scale, but at least 91 per cent of people admit to doing. It could come down to sheer laziness — where is that box of tissues when you need them? — but for some it is a compulsive behaviour.
If you pick your nose, you are encouraging those pesky bacterias to move around. One study even found you were more likely to be carrying the Staphylococcous aureus bacteria in your nose if you were guilty of nose picking.
Sleep in your eyes
Eye gunk is possibly the stickiest secretion your body can produce, but it also one of the most confounding. But meibum (yes, this is the correct name for what you commonly call ‘sleep’) is actually essential for all mammals.
It prevents tears from constantly streaming down your cheeks and is also responsible for keeping your eyes hydrated.