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Crying and tears

crying; tears; emotions; feelings; eyes; allergies; colds; dry; conjunctivitis;

Contents

What are tears?

tearsTears are produced by tear glands, which are small glands inside your upper eyelid. Tears keep the surface of your eyeball clean and moist, and help protect your eye from damage.

When you blink, your eyelids spread the tears over the surface of the eye. Sometimes tears flow over your lower eyelid, but mostly the tears flow down a tiny tube at the edge of your lower eyelid, next to your nose - if you look very carefully you can see a tiny dot that is the beginning of this tube. This tube carries the tears to the back of your nose (and this is why your nose 'runs' when you cry!)

What makes eyes water

There are several reasons why eyes produce more tears than are usually needed.

  • crying Something may irritate the eye. It could be something that has got stuck in the eye, like an eyelash or a speck of dust. It could be something that you cannot see like smoke, or fumes from cleaning chemicals or from cutting up onions.
  • You may be suffering from hay fever or a cold.
  • You may have an eye infection - conjunctivitis (say con-junk-tiv-eye-tis).
  • You may feel very emotional. We call this crying.

Why we cry

We cry for lots of different reasons.

Babies cry to communicate that they need something. Maybe they are hungry or thirsty, maybe they are wet and uncomfortable, or maybe they have a pain.
crying

We may cry when:

  • we feel sad about something that has happened either to us or to others
  • we hear about something sad
  • we watch a sad movie or listen to sad music
  • we are afraid
  • we are hurt or in pain
  • we feel really angry
    crying
  • we feel that we have done something wrong
  • we are trying to get our own way
  • we feel lonely
  • someone or something we love (like a pet) has died or left our lives in some way
  • we lose a game
  • we win a game.

We may even cry when we feel really happy or proud, or when other people around us are crying.
crying

Some interesting stuff about crying

Scientists have been studying crying for many years. These are some of the things they have found out.

  • In general, baby boys cry more than baby girls.
  • In some cultures or parts of the world, boys and men are not expected to cry, even if they are hurt, because it is thought that crying makes them look weak and men should always be strong.
  • In other cultures it is OK for boys and men to cry, as it is thought that crying shows that you have deep feelings and care about others.
  • In some cultures it is not OK for males or females to cry in public, as this 'lets the family down'.
    crying
  • Males and females seem to cry for different reasons.
    • Females are more likely to cry when they are angry or frustrated - like a 'bad hair day', when everything starts to go wrong and whatever you do doesn't work.
    • Males are more likely to cry when they are happy or proud - like when they or their team win a Grand Final game, or an Australian wins an Olympic gold medal.
  • Sometimes we laugh until we cry.
    laughing till you cry

Dry eyes

dry eyesYour eyes may sometimes be feeling very dry. This could happen if you are out in very cold or windy weather, sitting in a hot room, or if you have been staring at a book, TV or computer screen for a long time and not blinking so often.

To make your eyes feel better, try closing your eyes and squeezing your eyelids together several times. Or, with your eyelids closed, roll your eyes round until they feel less scratchy and dry.

If your eyes are often dry and sore, then ask whoever cares for you to organise a trip to the doctor. Eyes are very precious, so look after them.

Wear a hat and sunglasses to protect your eyes from strong sunlight.

Things kids say

  • "Is it okay if I cry, or do I have to be brave?"
  • crying"He cries if he loses."
  • "They say - don't cry you're a big kid now."
  • "My eye hurt when I was near the barbecue, I got smoke in it and mum thought I was crying."
  • "At a party T accidentally poked me in the eye. It hurt. I went to the doctor and he told us to go to hospital. I had drops to put in but it's OK now."
  • "I got dust and cinders in my eye. It really hurt and my eyes cried a lot to get rid of it."
  • "Your eyes water all the time to keep it clean. That's good because dry eyes hurt and feel all sandy."
  • "You can have tears of happiness as well as tears of sadness."

Did you know that the ancient Greeks believed that diamonds were tears from the Gods? Well tear drops can sparkle like diamonds, can't they?


Dr Kim says:

Dr KimIs crying good for you?

"Have a good cry - you'll feel much better afterwards." We often hear this line in movies. Real life isn't a movie, and people can be suffering something for a very long time before they start to cry.

If you have been really stressed or upset, then crying may help you to feel less stressed. And anyway, as you feel pretty awful while you are crying, you're bound to feel better after you've finished, hey?

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We've provided this information to help you to understand important things about staying healthy and happy. However, if you feel sick or unhappy, it is important to tell your mum or dad, a teacher or another grown-up.

 

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