#Health & Fitness
Six Body Quandaries and Their Causes
The human body is both a marvel and a mystery–why do we hiccup, and what's the purpose of sweat?
The complexities of the human body never cease to amaze me. Each time our lungs fill with air or our hearts contract and pump blood to the veins, our vessels are strengthened and the life cycle is renewed once more. Yes, our bodies are marvelously efficient machines—that is, until they spasm uncontrollably or produce embarrassing noises at the worst possible moments.
There’s not a person out there who hasn’t experienced what I like to call “body glitches,” those annoying occurrences—a loud hiccup here, a painful muscle cramp there—that remind us just how easily our systems can get thrown off course. What have we done to deserve such seemingly arbitrary discomfort in our lives? These six glitches are some of the most vexing, but a little information and preparedness can go a long way in keeping them at bay.
1. Halting Hiccups
I’ve tried every hiccup cure known to man (except a spoonful of sugar, which sounds like a surefire vehicle for cottonmouth and cavities) and I’m always on the lookout for what causes them (eating too quickly is a common culprit) and if there’s any way to stop them. The only thing that ever worked for me was drinking from a glass of water backward, but these lesser-known remedies—including red pepper, apple cider vinegar, and cream of tartar—may also be effective in curtailing them.
2. Stopping Eye Twitches, Stomach Growls, and Other Forms of Humiliation
Our bodies must have wicked senses of humor, or just awful timing. Ever notice how your stomachs churn extra obnoxiously when you’re in a quiet room surrounded by lots of people, or how your knees creak and pop just as you’re trying to demonstrate your athletic prowess to a crush? These body glitches are usually just alerts that we need to do something, like eat a snack, sleep more, or stretch properly, depending on the glitch.
3. Taming Our Ticklishness
Tickling is such a weird phenomenon, particularly because it’s so universal. Most of us have certain body parts that are more sensitive than others are and why we’re ticklish seems to have evolutionary roots. But why are some people, like me, especially vulnerable to tickle attacks while others remained unfazed? There are physiological and social theories that attempt to explain being ticklish, but none of those make me less annoyed when I can’t even get a pedicure without cringing and biting my lip to suppress giggles.4. Cramping Our Styles
Apparently, the muscle cramps we’ve all experienced, such as charley horses or stiff necks, are classified as “true cramps.” This makes sense, as pain never feels more authentic than when it’s ripping us from a peaceful slumber. Low magnesium levels are triggers for cramps, but poor sleeping conditions, improper stretching, and other mineral deficiencies are to blame as well. They’re avoidable with the right yoga routine or the occasional banana, so we have no one to blame but ourselves when we get them. (Of course, knowing that is of little comfort at 2 a.m. in the throes of a shin cramp.)
Master your muscle cramps with these cures.
5. Pinpointing Headache Pains
Headaches are our bodies’ way of punishing us for doing something wrong, like sitting in front of the computer too long or not drinking enough water. The list of what triggers them is long and varies from person to person, as does the span of the headache and where it hurts the most. What makes them truly annoying is that they often come quickly and without warning, debilitating us for actions we probably didn’t realize were so bad (or that were beyond our control, like working at a computer). There are ways to prevent them, but since we can’t always avoid strong perfume, weather changes, and the occasional health misstep like missing sleep or waiting too long to eat, their next appearance in our lives is probably inevitable.
6. Explaining the Differences in Perspiration
I love working up a good sweat in the gym, but not so much when I’m at work or going for a light stroll. Inappropriate sweating makes us feel gross and flustered and during stressful times when our body temperatures rise and cause the spontaneous sweat sessions, it makes everything seem that much worse (and smellier). Did you know that there are different kinds of sweat and what produces that musty odor is actually its contact with the bacteria on our skin? At least we know that we aren’t alone with our sweaty selves—everybody does it and what’s normal when it comes to perspiration is relative.
Though there are reasons why these body glitches occur and, in some cases, ways to prevent them or minimize their occurrence in our lives, it’s safe to say that we’ll all experience them again at some point. Our stomachs will rumble despite having been fed mere minutes ago, beads of sweat will form on our foreheads or backs during high-pressure moments, and we’ll erupt into fits of annoyed laughter when someone brushes the right (or wrong, depending on how you look at it) spots. We could hide our faces in shame when our hiccups echo through the office hallways, or we could laugh it off and realize that these awkward blips in our systems are just part of what makes us human.