Healthy You - Every Day

Seven Medical Terms Behind Everyday Moments

Kind of gives you horripilation, right?

Man with brain freeze

In this edition of HealthLingo, we’re turning the tables a bit and having some medically nerdy fun with the official biological terms for things that happen to our bodies in the course of everyday life.

Let’s start with the headline. Horripilation? That’s goosebumps or goose-pimples. In most cases, these bumps appear because we’re cold, or we’re excited or scared. The bumps you see are caused by the contraction of tiny muscles underneath your hair follicles and they’re an involuntary reaction caused by your sympathetic nervous system.

When it’s close to mealtime, you might experience borborygmus. In other words, your stomach might be growling. Of course, this completely normal biological process, while it can be embarrassing at a quiet dinner table, also can be the result of slow or incomplete digestion or the result of eating certain foods.

If you’re having trouble hearing someone, you might have too much cerumen, or ear wax. Our bodies produce this wax to protect our ears from germs. Of course, if too much wax builds up, it can lead to irritation and hearing loss.

If your joints sound like Rice Krispies® and they snap, crackle and pop, that’s called crepitus. It can happen to anyone, but typically happens to those of us who are, shall we say, more mature.

What would summer be without devouring a snow cone or a bowl of ice cream? It’s a great way to cool off that sometimes comes with an undesired complication: brain freeze. Medically, it’s known as cold neuralgia. It can last anywhere from a few seconds to a minute or two. One source we found says a cure for brain freeze is to press your tongue to the roof of your mouth until you feel the pain start to subside.

Injury, sadness, happiness, stress and a lot of other things can trigger lachrymation, or the flow of tears. Of course, saying “please don’t cry” sounds a lot nicer than “no lachrymation, please.”

Lastly, summertime also is a time for picnics and parties. Should you consume too many alcoholic beverages, you might wake up the next day with veisalgia – a hangover. The best advice is moderation, or not drinking at all. Common wisdom in preventing a hangover is to stay hydrated and drink water between drinks. Alcohol is a diuretic, which means you urinate more often.

Vagal Nerve and Syncope


Demystifying medicine by explaining what terminology means

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