Sunday, November 29, 2015

Off To The Symphony

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    When you are chronically ill, you are trained to pay attention to your body. Learning the signs and symptoms of an impending flare up is key to staying healthy and being able to either stop a flare up or start treatment and kill it off sooner. But have you ever truly listened to your body? I mean really listened…
    The human body makes some of the most unique and distinct sounds on the planet. And we can learn a lot about our bodies by knowing these sounds and what they mean for us. Now, being a dancer, I was immediately interested in the fact that our bodies can ‘pop and lock’. (not the hip hop term.) Also called Crepitus, it means the crackling, popping sounds our joints make. One cause is swelling that creates air bubbles in the joint fluid. People often develop the habit of cracking knuckles due to this build up of air bubbles and pressure.
    Crepitus is also caused by swollen bursa(fluid filled sacs that lubricate our joints) that make it necessary for tendons or ligaments to ‘snap’ over them, or can just be the sound of bone grinding on cartilage. Most of us with Sjogren’s, RA, or  almost any AI disease know this sound. It’s the percussion section of our body’s orchestra.
    Another percussion instrument would be our jaw. The crack of TMJ is a sharp sound often accompanied by a click as our lower jawbone shifts places. Again to swelling, the cartilage or the temporomandibular joint itself is out of alignment. Minne has clicked so loud, my family has heard it during movie night. For some reason, they all said “Owwww!” But it didn’t faze me one bit. I am used to it. They are not. But they crack their knuckles-a sound I hate-so I guess we’re even!
    Now I’ll add the bells of percussion. Tinnitus. Ringing of the ears. That’s simple. Our nerves are being stimulated to register sound even though none is there. Neuralgia? Most likely unless there’s been an injury. Solutions? I wish!
    OK. Let’s move on to the wind instruments. NO! Not that! (yet…) Have you ever been sitting round and suddenly realised that the high pitched whistling you hear is coming from you? From your nose? Do you have allergies? Good! That’s a big cause for ‘whistling nose syndrome’. But if you don’t have allergies, take heart. The inside membranes of your nose can become inflamed. Especially with Sjogren’s Syndrome. And that makes a smaller passageway to breathe through. Which causes whistling.
          Hiccups and gurgling are next. More swelling? Gotcha’! These are more due to excess air in our tummies and being hungry than being swollen. Hiccups are an over excited Vagus nerve that spasms the diaphragm. Sjogren’s can cause neuralgias of all different types as well as muscle spasms so extra bouts of the hiccups aren’t a stretch. And although, gurgling can be swelling in the intestines pushing stuff around too. And we all know that feeling. We also know the feeling of an overactive digestive system the produces excess gas. Which will also cause gurgling. Or worse…
    Which brings us to the brass section. And belching! Belching can be so embarrassing. And I for one do it way too much and way too loudly! Being that the main reason people burp is swallowing air when we eat or drink, you would think just being careful would eliminate it. But no. Swelling in my stomach, gastroparesis, and medications can all play a part. Of course! Facepalm. My husband now calls me his sailor wife. I used to be his dove. Which would you rather be?
    But though belching comes out hard and loud, it is not the worst of the brassy noises our bodies make. (yes, now!) Flatulence. Good old cutting cheese. (I don’t do well with knives either-haha) Eat healthy, people will know it. Thank you lower GI! But irritation and swelling from our diseases can do it too. And the flatulence will get it’s aroma dependant upon the cause. I’m lucky. I live with three men, two under the age of 25, and a dog, so I always have someone else to blame!
    And there’s one odd noise left that everyone knows. Snoring! It’s literally the sound of the soft tissue of your mouth and throat vibrating as you breathe during sleep. In and of itself, it’s not an issue, but it can cause huge issues such as lack of sleep, lower oxygen levels, and a condition called sleep apnea in which you frequently stop breathing during sleep. All these wreak havoc on your health. So though snoring is just a sound, it signals more than your wife throwing a pillow at you and kicking you to the couch!

    So now you know the most common noises our bodies make and why. Maybe we can appreciate them more in terms of music than just in terms of annoyance or pain. Maybe not. I know our bodies do so much to us that it can be hard to learn to laugh at constant burping or lying awake all night snoring. But then there’s this. As most of us are women, I’ll leave you with a last thought. When was the last time the woodwinds of your orchestra ‘queefed’? Come on! We’ve all done it...

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