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makemo's avatar

Why are hair straws so repellent to swallow?

Asked by makemo (531points) June 27th, 2008

Why is it that hair straws are really not what you want to have in your mouth, or worse even, swallow:

They don’t make any harm or pose any physical threat to your body, so how can it be that one reacts so repellent to a single tiny straw exhibited in ones mouth, when there are other lifeforms out there, willing to swallow large balls of hair?

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15 Answers

arnbev959's avatar

Long stringy things can get caught in your throat more easily than things that can be chewed or things that melt in your mouth. Hair will stick to your throat on the way down and it has too little surface area to go down with one swallow.

gailcalled's avatar

What’s a hair straw?

gailcalled's avatar

And how do you exhibit something in your mouth?

arnbev959's avatar

strange word choices.

makemo, you’re a poet.

ebenezer's avatar

are you talking about bar straws? When you suck on those they seem too shoot right back into the gag reflex.

gailcalled's avatar

@makemo; all I can say in Swedish is Mur, or Mur mur. But your question, albeit interesting, doesn’t make too much sense to me.

makemo's avatar

Oh goshus, I think my english failed on me there, for a while.

I think I meant, simply, ‘hair’. Or possibly, ‘pilus’. Does that make more sense?

And as for the ‘exhibit’ word. No clue where that word came from; probably some text encoding glitch down the line to the Fluther server. I meant to say, ‘introduced in the mouth or throat area (possibly called, the ‘pharynx’).

arnbev959's avatar

so you’re not a poet after all?

makemo's avatar

I’m a dictionary slave.

gailcalled's avatar

@Makemo; my kind of guy (a dictionary slave). Do you mean “Why is it impossible to swallow a hair?” Good question. (And I shudder to think of what would happen if I had to ask it in Swedish. That is your native tongue, right?)

Pilus is a lovely word, but it is Latin for a single hair.

makemo's avatar

Maybe I was fishing for the word, ‘strands’? I ever so often get lost in translation. It’s tough, I can tell you. It’s often a mixed feeling of being a literal underdog and a moron, communicating online. But it’s good, though. A ten.fold more effective than the “school-english” I was being taught back in the 80s, where the teachers sounded worse than Arnold.

Yes, Swedish is my native tongue. Funny thing, searching on Google for “hair straws” reveals that there seems to be a common thing among non-english citizens to use that term. In my case, swedes say “hÃ¥rdstrÃ¥” (eng: “hair” and “straw” put together in one word) which means… well… it’s the million dollar question: hair? strands?

Anyway. :-) I was just wondering why the body reacts with such negative reflexes against hair (straws ::P) in the throat. They mean no harm, and they are hardly in the way for other things to pass down the chasm to the stomach, or into the lungs. In essence, it seems like a figmental threat, more than a real one, as far as internal body defense goes.

gailcalled's avatar

It is true that we notice, with irritation, if there is hair in our mouths. And our instinct is, certainly, to remove it. (I have been more aware of this since I have been fostering my daughter’s cat. Just type “Milo” into the Fluther search engine if you own a cat or want a few cheap laughs at my expense.)

Please, don’t feel like a moron here. (You want a private list of morons…just PM me.) And don’t learn your English from us. Read the papers or the good writers. List of them on demand, also.)

susanc's avatar

Makemo, I would be sad to lose access to the English you exhibit. I especially enjoyed “They mean no harm” (this is very compassionate, I think) and “pass down the chasm to the stomach”. Pete was right, you are a poet. Don’t, don’t give it up.

It’s true that hairstraws mean no harm yet our bodies really do hate them.
This is a very good question. I’m waiting for shilolo to address it.

Seesul's avatar

How weird. that happened to me just a while ago…and I couldn’t for the life of me get it out. I guess I finally swallowed it. ICK! It’s just a funny feeling on the tongue and mine are very long and light, so I can’t see them to retrieve them.

Maybe it’s because we don’t eat anything that resembles hair in our diet. Most of us don’t self-clean fur, like Milo, but even cats do their share of coughing up hair balls when they’ve reached their limit.

snowberry's avatar

It’s not a problem to swallow hair once in a while. But there are people who do it constantly. When that happens the stomach cannot deal with it and it eventually forms a hairball called a bezoar. A bezoar is a mass of nondigestible matter that collects in the stomach.

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