Grossology: The Science of the Disgusting
Kids and adults learn how and why the body does those yucky things it does - like pooping, farting, belching, and making snot.
However, chronic nausea and vomiting are symptoms of acid reflux disease
(heartburn) -- a potentially serious health problem, she tells WebMD. Some
people have chest pain or asthma caused by acid reflux, she adds.
"Most people with acid reflux think they have a nervous stomach, and try
to modify their diet," Horesh explains. "But for many people, simply
avoiding spicy food or marinara sauce isn't going to do enough... and taking Tums
or Rolaids helps only a little. Newer medicines like Prilosec and Nexium,
though, can prevent acid reflux from developing into a more serious
Vomiting and nausea can also be symptoms of gallstone and gallbladder
disease, which can be a diet-related problem, she adds.
Mucus (a.k.a. snot) is the sticky liquid that coats the skin and hairs in
your nose. It has a special bacteria-killing chemical, and it also keeps junk
from reaching your lungs, explains Branzei. "Snot is so important that your
nose makes a new batch every 20 minutes."
Boogers are actually "nose garbage," she writes. "Each day, you
suck in a small roomful of air. If the air was only gas, you would not even
make boogers. But the air is filled with dust, smoke, grit, bacteria, tiny
fungi, pollen, soot, little metal pieces, ash, fuzz, sand, and even itty bitty
meteorites. One job of the nose is to clean the stuff out."
This nose-cleaning system is so effective that the nasal area is one of the
cleanest parts of your body, Branzei adds. However, allergies and pollutants
will trigger inflammation in the sinus lining, which creates sinus drainage,
Horesh explains. "For some people, that means a runny nose, for other
people, it's post-nasal drip."
Nasal sprays may help with post-nasal drip. Allergy shots and pills can
control allergic reactions. "If air quality is a problem, another option is
to move to Colorado," Horesh says.
Another tidbit: "The reason that smokers have more sinus and upper
respiratory infections is because smoking damages the cilia, the hairs lining
the sinus membranes which interfere with the natural snot mechanism,"
Farts & Gas
A fart is actually a mixture of gases in your large intestine. As bacteria
accumulate around undigested food in your gut, they release gas, which builds
in your intestine, explains Branzei.
Burping and belching are produced during the digestive process. As the
stomach acids digest food, gas is created. When too much builds up, pressure
builds, and gas seeks a means of escape. It often carries a food-related aroma
Some foods produce more gas than others: wheat products, dairy products,
cabbage, apples, radishes, broccoli, onions, cauliflower, and (of course)
beans. These are high-fiber, sugary foods that the body has trouble
Gas is rarely a serious problem, unless it's caused by acid reflux disease,
says Horesh. "For people who are lactose intolerant - who can't digest
dairy products - there is only short-term discomfort. For them, the worst thing
that can happen is a nutritional deficiency if they always avoid dairy. But
they're not damaging the intestines by eating dairy."