Monday, September 29, 2014

fun med facts #3

1. Humans are the only animals that can choke on food

Dr. L told us in lab that humans are the only animals that can choke on foods because our larynx is situated farther down in our pharynx than other animals. Check it out (ignore the baby one for now).

(image from here)

The adult chimpanzee's larynx is much higher up than the adult man's! In humans, the lower larynx intersects with the entrance to the stomach along with the airway so it allows us to choke. But it also is what makes our vocal production so unique! 

 So no matter how bad that Minnie pretends she's choking on tortillas, she's actually not mom! 

*This is also interestingly linked to the evolutionary benefit of a descended larynx for vocal production even though it can make you more susceptible for choking. If I had a ton of time, I know there is some fossil evidence for when the decension of the larynx took place and that would be cool to study.

2. Newborn babies are like other animals and can breathe and eat at the same time

Refer back up to the image in number one. Notice how high up the newborn's larynx is. This lasts for idk, at least 8 months I think I've read,  but right a birth we were taught that the baby is just like a chimp and won't choke. That's why a baby can nurse and breathe at the same time while adults can't, we have to stop and breathe and then continue drinking! Babies also don't have as developed of speech as adults either, they don't have a large of a range and other vocal capabilities - they also lack some cognitive abilities of speech production :). 

3. Great vocalists have a more refined vocalis muscle

This might not be 100% accurate (I'm skeptical of almost everything). Among other muscles in the larynx controlled better by singers, Dr. L in lab told us that singers have a more "refined" or, are just better at using, the vocalis muscle (seen below as the thick black line on the larynx). The vocalis muscle is basically hitched on to another muscle but it lies the closest to the vocal folds. So you breathe in, muscles close the vocal folds, and the vocalis muscle will tighten some areas and keep others loose to "refine" the tension etc. and when you speak the air goes over the folds.

Superior view of larynx is the photo above, so like a drawing of parts of what you'd see if you stuck a camera down your throat and followed it to the vocal fold, of course everything would be covered in mucous. 

4. Popping zits in can lead to cavernous sinus thrombosis (blood clot in brain), meningitis, or brain abscesses. 

All week last week were were taught this, and then when I looked more into it to write about it, I realized it's extremely rare. But still, maybe just leave those zits alone. Something like 60% of those blood clots in the cavernous sinus area (which is basically a specific area of a vein in the brain) were from infected acne. (If this statistic is wrong in case anyone actually knows, take it up with the teacher that told me it haha)

The veins from the danger area drains to that brain vein (cavernous sinus) and so if the infection on your face spreads to your brain you have serious issues now. I could tell you what those issues could be and what nerves could be compressed (in fact, I had to for the exam), but I don't want to think that hard right now, so you'll just have to trust me. ;) 

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