Things You Thought You Knew #5: Can Your Body Explode?

What You Thought You Knew: The human body is not prone to spontaneous explosion.

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What You Didn’t Know: Despite the fact that it seems a bit unlikely, body explosion is out there…and it might be coming for you.

Don’t get too discouraged, though — the odds of your entire body exploding are phenomenally small. Though cases of spontaneous human combustion are rare (and technically aren’t ‘explosions’ in the truest sense of the word), they do exist and, so far, have no definite scientific explanation. I wonder what shows up on your autopsy?

However, there are definitely parts of your body that can, and might, explode. Your eardrums can rupture on an airplane, especially if you have a cold or congestion that prevents the equalization of air pressure. Most parts of your internal organs can “dissect,” so they can spontaneously rip open (usually from a pre-existing injury or illness, of course).

There is also, in fact, a mental condition in which people believe that their heads are exploding. A form of hypnogogic auditory hallucination, the condition is quite appropriately called Exploding Head Syndrome. But the explosions aren’t always “all in your head.” Thanks to a strangely common condition called Fuchs’ Corneal Dystrophy, eyeball explosions are semi-regularly documented.

You read that right — your eyeball EXPLODES.

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Thankfully, these lesions that gather water in the eye can be treated by optometrists, however patients in countries without this type of medical care will have to face the unfortunate eye explosions that this slow, degenerative disease causes.

So although it’s clear that parts of your body can explode (and that you may just spontaneously combust), it’s not true that you’ll explode if you are exposed to a vacuum. So if you’re worried about those astronauts out there and whether their space suits are tough enough, you don’t need to worry quite so much — they won’t explode (or implode) when exposed to the vacuum of space. They will, however, have some side effects that can quickly be life-threatening. These include lack of oxygen and the water in the tongue beginning to boil.

Now You Know: That parts of your body can — and just might — explode.

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