FBet you I(now the feeling
mobile food from being inhaled into your
lungs, one more switch is thrown. The
EPIGLOTTIS (f12-ah-glot-is), which is kind of
like a lid for your windpipe, is pulled down
and the windpipe is sealed off. After all, pepperoni pizza has no place in your lungs.
Finally, that disgusting mess is out of your
mouth and into the toilet bowl. That is, if you
made it to the "can" in time!
Bet you I(now the feeling
all too well. It~may start
with a headache. Then you start sweating.
Soon, you're swallowing wads of saliva. Then,
your tummy gets this "oh-no" feeling. That's
when you know it's just a matter of moments
before that chili dog you had for lunch ends up
on the gym floor. But do you know why you
WHO PUT THE ACHE IN STOM-ACH(E)?
throw up? Grab a barf bag and let's find out!
First off, let's get something straight. Your
stomach is not behind your belly button. It sits
much higher up, the top part
hiding just a hair under
your heart. In fact, most
WHAT'S UP WHEN YOU UPCHUCK?
You might think that your stomach is the
guilty patty when you throw up. But the real
culprit is the MEDULLAOBLONGATA (madull-ah- ob-lon-got-ah), a major player up in
your brain. Think of it as "vomiting central," the
part of your body that decides when you
should heave your hot dog.
When you eat food that has harmful bacteria in it, eat too much food all at once (you now
know you should have skipped that fIfth slice
of pepperoni pizza), or take a couple of spins
on the Tilt-a-Whirl after stuffmg your face with
cotton candy, your brain sends out an SOS.
The brain gets really bossy, telling your
a strong sheet of
muscle that separates your chest from the
abdomen, to press down hard on the stomach.
At the same time, it tells your ESOPHAGUS
(eh-sgf--ah-gus), also known as your "food
pipe," to relax. It also instructs the lower valve
of your stomach, where it connects to your
intestines (the valve is called the PYLORIC
curious types), to slam the door and lock it
uP! The strong muscles of the tummy go wild,
squishing and squashing. That food has
nowhere to go but up.
But there's more. To keep that upwardly
of your stomach lies
behind your rib cage on
the left side of your
body. Bet even
your folks don't
e:-) ~ ,",
tt iJ;v· '- '
The stomach's job is to break down the
food you eat into stuff your body can absorb
into the bloodstream. Obviously,that burger
can't slide through your arteries and veins as it
is, now, can it?There's more work to be done.
The stomach turns your food into something
called CHYME(kime). What's the recipe for
this soupy-looking stuff?Take a little food and
stir in some GASTRICJUICE,which is made
fresh daily by the 35 million glands that line
your turn-turn.And what are the main ingredi-
ents in that juice? Gastric enzymes and acid!
Hydrochloric acid to be exact -acid so corrosive it can dissolve a piece of metal!
You might be wondering how come your
stomach doesn't get dissolved by all that acid.
The answer is in that marvel of magnificence-mighty mucus! The same stuff that
drips from your nose also lines your stomach
and helps takes the "aaagh" out of the acid!
Also, the food in your stomach dilutes the
acid. But here's the neatest fact of all.The lining of the stomach sheds its cells at the rate of
half a million every minute.Your stomach gets
a brand-new lining every three days!
NOW, BACK TO THOSE TOSSED
You're losing the battle against barfmg.Any
second, you're gonna blow! After you've raced
to the bathroom and dumped your partiallydigested dinner into the potty, you might
wonder why that mess doesn't look like
what you just ate. Or taste like it, either ...
That nasty taste in your mouth is your
stomach acid. And the vile smell is food that
has already been attacked by the enzymes
that live in your tummy, mixed with that
wicked acid.What you see depends on how
long ago you ate, and how far into the digestive process your meal got. Big chunks haven't
been down the hatch very long. Soupy slime
has been there longer. Occasionally, you might
, j (Jc,~
( 1<. b
\0 t 0
w.:L ..-.~;f~oTf(&J ~~
Ways to say • • •
4. Worshiping the porcelain god
5. Blowing chunks
6. Buying the Buick
----~=.y - ---- _
8. Doing the Technicol~r yawn
~PChUCk some really nasty, greenish, yellowish,
brownish puke. That comes from just below
the stomach, from the top part of the small
intestine. It's mixed with BILE,which is truly
vile. Bile is a bitter alkaline fluid that's made
by the liver and helps to digest fat.
12. Driving the porcelain bus
13. Tossingyour cookies
14. Runningthe stew-master
RIDING THE VOMIT COMET
It makes sense that our bodies would want to .
protect us from disgusting food. But why torment us just for trying to go on a school field
trip or a visit to Granny's? Bus rides. Boat
rides. Bouncy airplane rides. Roller-coaster
rides. Why does MOTION SICKNESS happen?
In this case, the culprit is our ears-especially the SEMICIRCULARCANALS.Our ability
to balance is controlled by these canals located in the inner ear. Sudden turning movements or sudden changes in our vertical position (such as when an elevator levels off too
quickly or a car swerves from side to side) can
and the proper medical terms:
i 15. Vomiting (from the ~atin for "to
upset the workings of these
delicate parts. They get all bent
out of shape, and have a complete hissy fit! Our ears know
Feeling seasick? The effect of the.
motion of the boat on your inner ear
(the part that controls your sense of
balance) is what makes yOU feel /II.
something's up. But our eyes
usually are looking at an
unchanging scene- the inside of
the school bus or an airplane cabin, for
example. The brain spazzes out
because it gets confused by
these mixed signals. ("Are we -moving, or aren't we?") It
says "time to blow chunks"
and the tummy pays the price.
BARFING AND BABIES
Imagine waking up every day,day after day,
and puking several times before lunch. That's
what some expectant moms can look forward \
to in the beginning months of pregnancy.
Their bodies have to change in order to nourish and hold the growing baby. Hormones help
the body make those changes: Unfortunately,
those same hormones sometimes bring on
MORNINGSICKNESS,which, in spite of its
name, frequently lasts all day.
And new babies, whose tummies aren't
quite used to the job at hand, are also worldclass pukers. They spit up cheesy stuff all the
time. Moms call it spit-up, rather than barf, but
it's the same stuff. Some can send a wad clear
across the room! That's called PROJECTILE
VOMITINGand it's a deftnite danger sign-a
sign that something may be blocking the
Gross but Good
me with a spoon!" Know that nasty
feeling you get when a doctor's wooden
tongue depressor hits the back of your throat? It
can save your life. It's called the GAG REFLEX and
it happens when certain nerves in the area
between your mouth and throat are touched. It
closes off the route to your airways so you don't
get unwanted substances in your lungs.
FIRST COURSE, SALAD-SECOND
If you think throwing up is gross, be glad
you're not a cow. Cows are kind of sweet.
Those big, sad, brown eyes. That swishy tail.
Without them we wouldn't have milk-or ice
cream for that matter. But leave it to those
divine bovines to do something particularly
yucky. They digest their grass salad by
swallowing it, then upchuckpart of the stomach, is where
ing it and eating it all over
you'll get good and wet until
again! It's called CUD and
all the cellulose in you starts
not a cow byto break down. The cow will
product you would want to
barf you up and chew you
eat. Cud sundae with
some more, then swallow
were folks in ancient
whipped cream anyone?
again. This time, you'll skip
Rome who.se](1) it was to clean up
Didn't think so!
stomach number one and
the barfy mess from the flQors, tables,
The cow belongs to a
head on to tummy two-the
and dining couches after big fancy dingroup of animals called
RETICULUM.Here, you'll get
ners, People ate so mUCh,and puking
RUMINANTS (roo-muhbroken down even more.
after dinner was so common, that the
Romans had a speci<ll room to do it
Next, you'll slide into the
nintz), along with sheep,
in ••• the VOMiTORIOM.
deer, goats, buffaloes,
OMASUM where all the water
giraffes, yaks, antelopes,
will be sucked out. Finally, it's off
to the ABOMASUMwhere the last stages of
and chamois. They all have amazing tummies.
digestion take place.
We have just one stomach. They have four.
Now, the cow's fourth stomach produces
Each does a different part of the digesting and
an enzyme called RENNET (ren-it)
each has different enzymes in it. Let's pretend
. needed to make cheese. Cheese makers get
that you are a big mouthful of grass. You have
the necessary ingredient by soaking that
just been swallowed by a gassy, old cow.
Here's what happens.
fourth stomach in water until it's all soft and
mushy. Then they mix it up with a harmless-toThe cow starts to chew you, only she
humans bacteria. They add it to milk at the
doesn't do a really good job and swallows you
beginning of the cheese-making process-it
still looking like grass. The RUMEN,the first
If you feel sick after a carnival ride, try sipping
ginger ale. Not only is ginger an ancient Chinese
ride. It's better to have a little something in your
stomach than nothing at all.
remedy for settling stomachs, but the bubbles will
help you burp, which will release some of the volcanic pressure building up in your insides.
If you get a stomach virus that leads to a lot of
barfing, try a BRAT diet. And no-that
whining and complaining about your food every time
Another thing that you can try is pressing your
thumbs on a point on your wrist about two thumbs'-
width above the edge of your palm. These pressure
points can short-circuit
the brain's barfing signals.
you eat, nor does it mean bratwurst. It stands for
~ananas, Rice, Applesauce, and 10ast.
To keep the inner ear from throwing out a throwup request when you're riding in a car (or other vehicle), stare at something outside so the brain can
Long bus ride ahead? Try eating some plain
register that you are moving. For example, if you are
in a car, keep your eyes on the road ahead; if you're
in a boat, keep your eyes on the horizon.
ometimes, throwing up can be a warning sign
of great danger-of
serious brain injury.
When there is pressure directly on, or activity
decisions. Should I go fOIi that
lovely raccoon that just got creamed by a
truck on the highway, or perhaps the elderly
near, the medulla oblongata, usually after a head
injury (are you wearing that helmet when you ride
deer that just kicked the bucket near that big
your bike?), you could end up barfing without any
oak? Or maybe I should be a complete pig
of the usual warning signs. Strokes and severe
migraine headaches can have the same effect. If
you feel sick to your stomach after hitting your
and have both. Oh, the difficult
VULTURE has to make!"
head, tell your parents immediately.
And if someone vomits blood that's a big
"uh-oh." It's called HEMATEMISIS (he-muh-tem-itlsis). Vomited blood can be dark red, black, or
look like coffee grounds and it's a sign of a serious problem in the esophagus, stomach, or duodenum. Things such as ulcers, which eat away at
the stomach's lining, can cause hematemisis.
helps the milk to form curds. and leave it to
harden. Hard to look at a cheese sandwich in
quite the same way when you know that!
kind of weak in the knees. We've all seen those
movies where some guy is dragging himself
through the desert, slower and slower.The sun
is huge, and you know the guy's a goner.And
he knows it too, because those birds-those
dreaded vultures-are circling overhead, COlillting the seconds till he topples over and their
dinner can fInallybegin.
But vultures are very polite. They will
almost always wait until their dinner is dead
before they dine!
CAUTION: NOT FOR THE WEAK
Anatomy of an upchuck.
The brain sends messages
to the stomach, diaphragm,
and abdominal wall. Watch
out, it's time to hurl!
To tell the truth, the real reason vultures wait
is not because they have such good table manners.A vulture's beak is not very strong, nor
are its feet. This adds to vultures' delightful
awfulness, because they have to wait for their
food to be a bit rotten before they can dig in.
As an appetizer, they'll usually pop out an
eyeball or two. When the main course is rotted
enough, they peck through the stomach and
make a beeline for the intestines-and all
that's in them-before moving on to the rest.
Vultures are complete porkers. They just