By Jeff Steinbrunner
The human body is one of the most incredible organisms in the known universe, but all that awesomeness carries some pretty weird and hard-to-explain baggage. We are here to help shed light on some of those body mysteries in the hopes you'll have something intelligent to say if you get stuck in an intense debate about the pee shakes or the white thing you just coughed up. Read on, get educated and help identify those unknown moments when it appears your body is rebelling against you. If you're lucky your questions will be answered here, if they aren't ... brain tumor.
Falling In Your Sleep (aka The Hypnic Jerk)
This is that falling sensation and sudden jolt you sometimes feel just as you're falling asleep. Scientifically named hypnagogic myoclonic twitch, it's also the third leading cause for embarrassment on sleepovers, behind bed-wetting and sleep farting. The muscle spasm may be light enough to be misinterpreted as a dream or it can be so jarring it physically shakes you awake.
It's fairly common (studies say around 70 percent of you have experienced it). The likelihood is increased if a person is exhausted or is sleeping in an uncomfortable position. That means the working poor and the homeless are probably more likely to experience a hypnic jerk, though scientists would probably rather not bother asking them. As far as recognized members of society, the muscle twitch is a normal and well-documented event.
What causes it?
Like any good freakish event, the experts can't agree on what causes it. Most researchers feel that when muscles begin to slack while preparing for sleep the brain senses and misinterprets the relaxation signals, and assumes the body is falling. A little presumptuous on the brain's part to go around "assuming" you're falling while lying down. Then again it's nice to know the most important organ is on the lookout for trapped doors with mattresses on top.
If you want to experience this feeling at your desk just lean back in your chair, a little past the point of no return. Once gravity reminds you who's boss your body enters that frenzied states of "lost-balance/I hope that girl I like isn't watching." The sensations are so physically comparable that the brain analyzes them the same.
Pee Shivers (aka Post-Micturition Convulsion Syndrome)
Commonly known as the "Pee Shakes" or if you're an adult, the "Piss Shivers." It's a tingling sensation down the spine which causes an involuntary twitch. Also it is the best excuse to use if you happen to piss on your urinal neighbor's shoes while drunk. The uncontrollable shaking is similar to the prolonged shivering someone experiences when very cold, however others have reported it feels like a miniature orgasm. Researchers have since decided to keep golden shower enthusiasts out of their surveys.
According to research, 83 percent of males say they've experienced this, but only 58 percent of females have gotten the shivers--probably the whole "standing vs. sitting" thing.
What causes it?
Inadequate government funding toward piss-related mysteries has lead to several "educated guesses" as to why the shaking occurs. Some have offered a highly technical and uninteresting explanation involving changes in the nervous system when the bladder is relaxed.
The simplest explanation, though, is that the rapid release of warm fluid lowers the body's overall temperature leaving it to react the same way you would in a cold breeze. Why you don't shake when vomiting or giving blood was not answered, because those particular researchers apparently decided they had thought about it long enough.
Black Hairy Tongue (aka Black Hairy Tongue)
Yes, this is a real thing and not a gross-out urban legend. It's the appearance of dark hair covering the surface of the tongue. It will look like a person lovingly cleaned the exhaust system of a decade-old 18 wheeler, with the gentle precision a mother cat applies to her own litter. This oral ashtray effect is nasty, although an attention getter. And everyone loves attention, right?
It could happen to you, too, if you're kind of a filthy person. If you'd like to give your mouth a warm fur coat for winter try these three steps: 1. Stop brushing your teeth. 2. Enjoy your coffee like Kim Kardashian enjoys her men. 3. Smoke; you're not getting any younger and it'll make you cool*. If you follow this strict guideline your mouth may wind up with a coat that will keep it warm through the snowy months, and will block those drafty winds when opened for a make-out session.
*Coolness reports based off of 1950s studies and James Dean posters.
What causes it?
Your mouth is teeming with filth. It is a truly perfect swamp for the breeding and growth of bacteria and grime. The hairy tongue is an overgrowth of these bacteria, and sometimes yeasts that are present. Papilla, the finger-like projections from the surface of the tongue, become awash in this bacterial stew. In instances of hairy tongue the papilla often cease to shed normally, growing longer and creating more surface area for the bacteria to attach to. Thus, it grows into something that looks terrifyingly like hair.
To help combat such revolting disorder, a person can brush their tongue twice a day and rinse their mouth with diluted hydrogen peroxide (one part peroxide to five parts water). As astounding as it may seem this horrendous affliction offers no immediate threat to your health. If you're experiencing it, you may have bigger problems, since hairy tongue is common in those involved with intravenous drug use or those who are HIV positive. Put in the perspective of those problems a furry mouth seems kind of trivial.
Tonsil Stones (aka Tonsiloliths)
Tonsil Stones are hard, yellowish-white globules that grow in the back of the throat and can become dislodged by coughing or sneezing. After expelling one of these disgusting lumps for the first time, a person may be worried. And if they happen to sniff one of these stones they may panic, because the scent leads one to assume their assholes are attempting to climb out their throats. These mouth-made stink bombs are repulsive, and worst still, oddly fascinating.
There's a good chance you'll wind up with these, if you haven't already, assuming you meet two qualifications; you've entered adulthood and you still have your tonsils. All the little brats out there who begged for tonsillectomies for a week of no school and ice cream are not cursed with this ailment, although they are spoiled bastards who will never know real love.
What causes it?
Tonsils are the gatekeepers to the esophagus. Maybe that's too dramatic; they are more like minimum wage bouncers, keeping out most nasty organisms but still letting a few fatties through the door. The organs' surfaces are dimpled, like that of a golf ball, and these indentations are known as tonsillar crypts. It's a fitting name because food dislodged from these crypts does indeed smell like a decomposing body. This is due to food particles becoming caught and then covered by saliva, dead white blood cells and anaerobic bacteria. Wait, we're sorry, were you eating? Anyway, over time layers begin building on layers forming larger particles. These majestic throat pearls will remain until they become heavy enough to break free and swallowed or expelled from the mouth. The particles growth can cause discomfort and even mild pain, but that's about it. The sensation resembles a feeling of something lodged in the throat. That's mostly because there is something lodged in the throat, and we've been talking about it this whole time.
Permaboner (aka Priapism)
This is what they're talking about on those Cialis commercials (" ... if your erection lasts more than four hours, consult a physician ... "). It is the dreaded prolonged male erection, keeping in mind that an educated man's dread is an imbecile's unanswered prayer. Priapism is not only a penis that is unable to return to a flaccid state, but it's also described as a very painful erection. And we're not talking about emotionally painful, either.
The medical community is divided on how much time should constitute a case of priapism, but most have settled on six hours, although a person should seek medical attention after four (as the commercials say). This all occurs in the absence of any sexual stimulus, however if you are in possession of enough material to keep it up for almost a quarter of a day's time you should look in to some new hobbies.
Thankfully episodes of priapism are not common in the real world; most incidents confined to the professionally edited fantasy realms of pornography. Unfortunately cases are more common in men who are suffering from other diseases, such as sickle cell anemia, that prevent blood from flowing back out of said boner.
What causes it?
Although not every facet of the disorder is known, scientists are sure all cases happen from injury or damage to the mechanism that produces detumescence of the penis. Detumescence is a fancy word for relaxation of the penis after orgasm, and is usually accompanied by greater clarity in reasoning and maybe remorse, depending on who or what you find it inside of when your penis finally relaxes.
This horrible situation sounded awesome to crotchety old men with erectile dysfunction, and a pill was invented to cater to their elderly lust. This created the second most common group to suffer from priapsm, and the easiest go-to joke for hacky stand up comics. "A four hour erection? I ain't callin' a doctor, I'm gonna call a hooker!" Other punch lines include "call the 6 o'clock news" and "call my old girlfriends." All of which you would never call in reality because you'd be frightened and in excruciating pain.
Aside from the aforementioned blood disease and Cialis overdose, priapism cam be caused by some sort of trauma-like spinal damage, drug/alcohol abuse, or even black widow spider bites. You've probably never heard that last one, we're guessing because the medical community doesn't want to drive a huge increase in black widow sales to men who just can't wrap their heads around the idea that a six-hour boner is actually a bad thing.