Kid Stuff: Leaky beaks
You call it snot. Doctors say nasal secretions. And as annoying as it can be to have a nose full of gloopy, gloppy mucus, you actually need the stuff.
Snot contains cells that protect your body from bacteria (like the kind that cause strep throat) and viruses (like the kind that give you a cold or the flu), according to Amanda Stapleton, a Pitt physician who specializes in helping kids keep their ears and throats healthy; she works at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.
Snot cells “have components called immunoglobulins that keep these invaders from attaching to the lining of your nose,” says Stapleton. Other cells in your body protect you by making little holes in the invaders, to break them up. Then, tiny hairs, or cilia, that line your nose move the snot toward your nostrils. It’s your job to wipe it away.
You may only think about snot when you’re sick. But it helps you when you’re well, too. It coats the linings of your lungs so you can breathe easy. It keeps your nose moist and comfortable. And it ushers little particles that might cause allergies, like pollen and cat dander, away.
Snot is somewhat salty. (I’m told.) Some scientists speculate that its flavor appeals to kids because eating it, and the “good” germs it contains, might actually help them fight off diseases down the line. Not to be snotty, but most people think that eating boogers is super gross; besides, picking your nose is likely to spread disease. Better to pick a new hobby instead.
By the way, without snot, “the smell receptors at the top of your nose wouldn’t work, and you wouldn’t be able to smell—or taste—your food,” says Stapleton. We guess you could say that we owe the delicious tastes of pizza and chocolate and strawberries to . . . snot!
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