Friday, December 9, 2022

Picking your nose is even grosser than you thought

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Come on, you know you do.

Whether you’re in the trusted company of your spouse or taking it easy when you think no one is watching, we all pick our noses. Others primates do it too

Social stigma around nose picking is widespread. But should we really – and what should we do with our cheaters?

We’re scientists who’ve researched environmental pollutants—in our homes, in our workplaces, in our gardens—so we have some insight into what you’re really trapping up there when your finger gets satisfyingly tucked into your sniffer.

Nose picking is a natural habit – children who have not yet learned social norms realize early on that the fit between the index finger and the nostril is very good. But there’s a lot more than just gridlock up there.

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Length approx 22,000 breath cycles per daythe booger-forming mucus up there forms a critical biological filter to trap dust and allergens before they enter our airways, where they can cause inflammation, asthma and more. long-term pulmonary problems.

The cells in your nasal passage are called goblet cells (named for their cup-like appearance) generate mucus to trap the viruses, bacteria and dust they contain potentially harmful substances like leadenasbestos and pollen.

Nasal mucus and its antibodies and enzymes are the body’s first line immune system defense against infections.

The nasal cavity also has its own microbiome. Sometimes these natural populations can be disturbed, leading to various conditions such as rhinitis. But in general, our nasal microbes help repel invaders, fighting them on a mucus battlefield.

Dust, germs, and allergens trapped in your mucus are eventually swallowed as that mucus flows down your throat.

This is usually not a problem, but it can exacerbate environmental exposure to some pollutants.

For example, leaden – a neurotoxin widespread in house dust AND garden plots — enters the children’s body more efficiently through swallowing and digestion.

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So you can worsen particular environmental toxic exposures if you sniff or eat the boogers instead of blowing them.

What does science say about the dangers of booger mining?

Golden stafiok (Staphylococcus aureussometimes shortened to S. aureus) is a microbe that can cause a variety of mild to severe infections. Studies show that it often is found in the nose (this is called nose carriage).

A survey found that nasal congestion is associated with S. aureus nasal carriage, which means that the role of nasal intake in the nasal carriage may be causative in certain cases. Getting over the habit of picking your nose can help S. aureus decolonization strategies.

Picking of the nose can also be associated with an increasing risk of the transmission of staphylococcus aureus in the wound, where it poses a more serious risk.

Sometimes, antibiotics don’t work on Staphylococcus aureus. A letter pointed out that increasing antibiotic resistance requires health care providers to assess patients’ nose-picking habits and educate them on effective ways to prevent nose-picking practices.

Picking the nose can also be a means of transmission Streptococcus pneumoniaea common cause of pneumonia among other infections.

In other words, sticking a finger in your nose is a great way to trap germs further into your body or spread them into your environment with your dirty finger.

There is also the risk of scratches and scrapes inside the nostrils, which can allow pathogenic bacteria to invade your body. Compulsive picking of the nose to the point of self-harm is called rhinotillexomania.

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Well, I chose. Now what?

Some people eat them (the technical term is mucophagy, meaning “mucus feeding”). Besides eating boogers being gross, it means ingesting all those microbes associated with inhaled mucus, toxic metals, and environmental pollutants discussed earlier.

Others hide them in the nearest object, a small gift to be discovered later by someone else. Gross, and a great way to spread germs.

Some more hygienic people use a bean bag to pick it up, and then throw it in a trash can or toilet.

This is probably among the least bad options, if you really have to pick a nose. Just be sure to wash your hands very carefully after blowing or picking your nose, keeping in mind that until the mucus is completely dry, infectious viruses can remain in the hands and fingers.

No advice in the world will stop you from digging

In secret, in the car or on napkins, we all do it. And to tell you the truth, it is very satisfying.

But let’s honor the hard work done by our incredible noses, mucous membranes and sinus cavities – such amazing biological adaptations – and remember that they are trying hard to protect you.

Your snoz is working overtime to keep you healthy, so don’t make it difficult by jamming your fuzzy fingers up there. Don’t be a predator – blow wisely, dispose of the tissues carefully and wash your hands afterwards.

Mark Patrick Taylor is Principal Environmental Scientist at EPA Victoria and Honorary Professor of Environmental Science and Human Health at Macquarie University in Sydney. Gabriel Filippelli is chancellor’s professor of earth sciences and executive director at Indiana University’s Institute for Environmental Resilience. Michael Gillings is Professor of Molecular Evolution at Macquarie University.

This article was originally published on

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