The Stuff of Tears

Thousands of songs have been composed about tears and almost every movie worth remembering stimulates their flow. We cry for all different reasons…whenever what we’re feeling transcends what language can do.

There are also reflex tears that occur when our eyes are irritated or sore. They help keep our eyes moist and lubricated and flush out things that aren’t supposed to be in there like dust and grit but no matter what causes the waterworks, these salty, watery secretions have some interesting facts behind them.

The use of our vocal cords comes shortly after birth in the act of crying. That signals that a newborn’s lungs are functional.

Male and female babies cry about the same amount, yet by their teenage years, that’s no longer true. This leads us to infer thatadult crying behavior is mostly a learned response, with kids adopting the crying behavior of their same sex parent.

Girls cry five times more frequently than boys…and their tears tend to stream down their faces while boys’ usually well up in their eyes.

Sadness, followed by anger, sympathy and fear are the reasons most adults give for crying.

People tend to feel better after they cry leading researchers to believe tears help the body alleviate stress and cleanse itself of stress.

Boys are more likely to cry as a result of positive feelings, like at sporting events.

Girls are more likely to cry as a result of negative feelings, like personal conflicts.

Most of our tears run down these “drainpipes,” back into the nose. That’s why we get runny noses when we cry.

Some whales have tear ducts that secrete grease rather than water.

A crocodile really does produce tears but they’re not due to sadness. Their tears are glandular secretions that work to get rid of excess salt from their eyes. That’s where the expression “crocodile tears,” signifying false tears, comes from.

In space, astronauts cannot cry because there is no gravity so the tears can’t flow..

Tears contain the same proportion of salt as blood does. They also are made up of glucose, enzymes, hormones, oils, mucous, minerals and antibodies that protect the eyes from infection.

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