The Answers to Ten Interesting Questions
- Why does my nose run when I am outside on a cold day?
The answer is condensation. If the air inside your nose is warmer than the air around you, the water in your nose condenses, mixes with mucus and causes your nose to run.
- If bitten by a snake, should the venom be sucked out?
It is true that older medical advice did support this practice, and some continue to do so. But, more advanced knowledge has taught us that trying to suck out the venom from a snakebite is largely ineffective and can be harmful. If you or someone else puts their mouth to the wound, the bacteria in saliva may cause a major infection. In addition, the poison can be absorbed through open sores in the mouth.
Instead, if possible, treat the infected area by washing it thoroughly with soap and water, keep the area below chest level and get immediate medical attention. Do not panic and remain still in order to keep the venom localized. Remove any items that may be constrictive, including jewelry, socks or boots, as the wound will likely swell. Avoid alcohol and caffeine because they will intensify the problem.
- Why do we have an appendix if it can be removed?
The wall of the appendix contains tissue that creates antibodies to strengthen your immune system. Removing the appendix is not harmful because there are other parts of your body that serve the same purpose. These include the spleen, lymph nodes and tonsils. Therefore, it’s good to have the appendix but it’s not absolutely necessary.
- Are there really drugs that act like “truth serums?"
Certain barbiturates inhibit control of the central nervous system, producing drowsiness, slurred speech and relaxation. These drugs make people more susceptible to the power of suggestion.
In the past, doctors might have used barbiturates to help patients with repressed feelings or memories. Police and law enforcement agencies are said to have employed these drugs because it sometimes caused prisoners to volunteer information they otherwise would have suppressed. For these reasons, the drugs have been called “truth serums,” even though they do not guarantee the truth.
So, the answer to this question is, “Kind of.” Barbiturates may make you significantly less inhibited, and more apt to “admit” information, but you are still in control. Therefore, you could certainly still lie.
- Does cranberry juice really have a positive effect on urinary tract infections?
The use of cranberry juice among individuals to prevent or treat urinary tract infections (UTI) is a common practice. The accumulating evidence from small, non-controlled and controlled clinical trials suggest that cranberry juice may relieve symptoms associated with UTI and may reduce the need for antibiotics. The reason for this is not completely understood, but it may be because cranberry juice helps stop the bacterium that causes UTI from sticking to the bladder wall.
- Why does a person sometimes “see stars” when they hit their head?
“Seeing stars” is an indication that you have suffered a concussion and should seek medical attention. A concussion occurs when you hit your head so hard that your brain actually shifts. If you take a hard enough blow to the back of the head, the area of the brain that processes visual information hits the skull. This stimulates the visual portion of the brain, resulting in “stars."
- Why does your skin resemble prunes after you take a long bath?
After you soak in the bath for an extended period of time, you probably will notice that your hands, fingers and toes look a bit like prunes. This is because the outer layer of your skin has absorbed some of the bath water. The skin on the hands and feet is thicker than the skin on the rest of the body, making the effects of this absorption more visible to the eye.
- If you are dehydrating and have no access to fresh water, is it okay to drink salt water?
You might think that because the body already contains water and salt, it is safe to drink salt water in times of desperation. It isn't.
The body contains enough salt to fill about three saltshakers. That salt is continuously lost through sweating, crying, etc. It is essential to replace this lost salt, but not to overdo it.
Ocean water is about three times as salty as human blood. That is more salt than we can safely metabolize. If you did drink salt water, your kidneys would eventually fail. Your cells would become dehydrated, your muscles would become weak and your heart would beat irregularly. The dehydration could lead to seizures, unconsciousness, brain damage and death.
- Why do goose bumps occur?
Goose bumps are the body’s reaction to fear, cold or other stimulii that cause the sympathetic nervous system to react. When you get goose bumps, your brain is sending a message to the skin to react as part of a “fight or flight” response. It occurs not only in humans but also in many other mammals. A good example is the porcupine that raises its quills when threatened.
- What happens when my foot falls asleep?
A body part “falls asleep” when the blood supply to the nerves becomes inadequate. This usually happens when you stay in one position too long, which is why it often occurs when you are sleeping. Nerves are highly dependent on small vessel blood supply and any decrease of circulation can easily cause temporary motor and sensory nerve dysfunction. Changing one's position usually allows the blood flow to return to the cells and makes the tingling go away.