B1 Information Report

Why Do We Cry?

It must have been strange for the first human being who cried a tear weeping over something. I wonder what overwhelming feelings this person felt to make him weep? Did people around him wonder why there was water in his eyes?

A long time ago, people explained tears and crying like this: they believed that human feelings were hot stones burning too close to the heart and needed to be thrown out quickly from the body. It was said that the smoke from that burning heart would become water and leave the body through the eyes as tears.

Today, that sounds silly to us because we know that tears do not happen because of hot stones in our hearts. Tears are made up of many chemicals, mainly water, salts, anti-bacterial liquids and oil. Salts and salt water give your tears a salty taste. More than that, the salt helps to keep your eyes safe from dust and other dangerous objects that might give you a red and itchy eye. Tears also contain a liquid that helps take away pain. No wonder we feel better after a good cry!

Thanks to Niels Stensen’s research, we learn that our tears are very similar to the saliva in our mouth. Glands (or organs) make the tears come out of our eyes and roll down our cheeks when we cry. These tear glands are always producing tears – even when we are not crying.

Each time you blink, each eye lets out tears to form a moist cover over the eyeball to protect it. Normally, we make just enough tears to keep our eyes healthy.

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weep – to cry because of sadness
overwhelming – very abundant, large in amount
moist – slightly wet
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