An opinion piece by Sara Flack
The human body fascinates me. There is no end to the weird and wonderful things that go on inside. I just can’t get my head around it most of the time! Even just the act of eating and digesting food is pretty much a miracle in my eyes. Even though it’s considered a normal bodily function I just don’t get how the word normal can be applied to the human body and all the quirky behavior and appearances that go on there! I find the human body weird 🙂 – the way it looks, the way it functions, the way no-one is the same. I think it’s quite fitting to call the human body weird, it’s not meant in a bad way, it just means that some things are beyond the average person’s comprehension or that some people look a bit different. When you dig deep, there’s pretty much always a reason why some people look or function differently.
Here are some weird conditions and facts about the human body and unexpected things that can happen…. most of them are surprisingly common.
I always used to presume that the color of our eyes was genetic and only genetic, nothing else to it….apparently I am wrong Have you ever looked into someone’s eyes and felt confused by the fact that they are different colors? As in one color is light brown and the other is dark? Or one is brown and one is blue? Well, it can happen but it’s not necessarily genetic, it can also be down to an injury. The condition is called Heterochromia is it’s caused by the iris in the eye either getting exposed to too much sunlight or not enough.
There’s an old saying about how when a baby is born remember to check for all the fingers and toes. The saying implies that we should be worried about missing fingers and toes but it’s more likely that the baby will be born with an extra finger or a toe, rather than a missing one (something needs to be re-phrased in that question!). Up to 1 in 1,000 babies are born with this condition, it is called Polydactyly. The extra fingers or toes are normally found next to the pinky finger on the outside of the hand or next to the little toe on the outside of the foot. Extra digits like these are normally smaller than the other digits and are generally nothing to worry about and can be removed later on in life.
This is one of those embarrassing body ailments that many people automatically presume is a myth and doesn’t really happen. Surprise! It’s true! Rare but true. If a baby is born with what looks like a little tail attached to the base of his spine it means that some of the spinal bones are out of place or some grew longer than needed and so protrude from the body. It’s not a real tail, I guess you could call it a “pseudo tail”. Surgery can normally be done to correct it so the reason why we probably think it’s a myth is because we haven’t actually seen any adults walking around with tails on them.
If you have cold or a sore throat the chances are that you have opened your mouth wide to inspect what is going on inside and to see how bad it really is. Ever thought that that silly bit of wet looking skin hanging down the back of your throat shouldn’t be there so you can get a better view of what’s happening behind it? I thought the same thing last week when I came down with raised glands and a sore throat. Why is it even there? Now I know – the hanging skin is called a Uvula and it is there to help keep your throat moist. If you have a dry throat it can be very painful to eat or drink. The Uvula itself actually makes saliva which then travels down the esophagus keeping it from getting dried out.
OK, OK so it’s not actually a syndrome but it does happen quite often. People can be born with an extra nipple or it can develop over time. Extra nipples normally affect men more than women but they are harmless so surgery is rarely done on them. Maybe if more women had them surgery rates would be higher? It’s possible to have more than a few extra nipples to spread over your chest but many times we mistake them for moles or warts as they are often smaller or a slightly different color from the man nipple. The bigger the extra nipple the more visible it is. Sometimes the extra nipple can develop it’s own small breast.
Webbed fingers and toes can happen to humans as well as to animals. For humans though it is not normal and requires surgery to correct them (if you want to go down that route and not live with your hands and feet as they were made) This condition is often down to chromosomal irregularities and it therefore often linked to other conditions. Approximately 1 in 2,500 babies are born with this condition. It’s called Syndactyly. Usually the fingers or toes are webbed together with only skin so surgery is not too tricky. If blood vessels or bones are involved then it’s more of a procedure. By itself, webbed fingers or toes look weird but they are not actually dangerous.
Some kids have too many teeth for their mouth. When the adult teeth start coming in the baby ones are still there so the new teeth grow behind the old teeth. Normally the baby teeth start falling out soon after but it can lead to spacing issues between teeth and overcrowding. A dentist might need to extract the baby teeth if they don’t fall out by themselves. If you see an adult with wonky sideways teeth they could have experienced this when they were growing up but never dealt with the spacing issues.
Adams apples are quite visible in men but it doesn’t mean that women don’t have them too! Just because it is more visible in men we presume it is something specific to men and does not affect women – not true! An Adams apple looks like a fairly random round bump (almost like a small ball stuck in your throat) but it’s actually your larynx (voicebox). As boys head into puberty their larynx grows up as well – it becomes bigger and is responsible for the deepening of the male voice. In girls the larynx doesn’t grow as big which is why it’s less noticeable from the outside and sticks out less.
Dimples on the cheeks are very cute in babies and toddlers and are almost as endearing in adults too (although grown men with dimples might not feel the same way as me). Some dimples stay into adulthood but some of them do disappear over time as the facial features grow up. Dimples happen in the area of your face where your facial muscles meet. When the large facial muscles move it can create a little hollow. This is what the dimple is! As your grow up and your muscles become bigger and more effective the dimples can change or even disappear. No-one is symmetrical, it’s quite normal to have a dimple on one cheek but not the other.
You can live with it and you can live without it. Most people consider it as an extra tiny organ that doesn’t really have any function other than to inflame or explode and cause you to have it removed. There are conflicting opinions about the function of it and why Appendicitis happens. The most comment thought is that it collects and stores good bacteria which help the digestion of food and fighting off gastro infections. The appendix looks like a small pouch attached to the colon. It opens into the large intestine which is why many presume it has links to digestive issues. The truth is that many doctors still consider it to be useless. The jury is still out on this one but feel free to share your views on it!
Thank you to WebMD for inspiring this blog post. Have you got any weird body conditions to share? Do you know the reason why they happen?