Illustration for article titled A Strange Nerve Disorder Causes People to Shed Crocodile Tears

Crocodiles were said to shed tears while consuming their victims, expressing remorse while happily committing the crime. In 1928, a Russian neuropathologist described incidents of "crocodile tears" among human beings. People, for some reason, wept while eating. Why?


Bell's palsy is a traumatic, and still slightly mysterious, form of facial paralysis. Suddenly one half of a person's face becomes unresponsive. The inflamed nerves send no signals from the brain to the flesh, and whenever the sufferer makes an expression, half of the face animates while the other half remains blank and drooping. It's a frightening condition, but 85 percent of people who get hit with it start recovering in three weeks, even without treatment.

It's during that recovery that three to six percent of patients get struck with a new, and strange, condition. When the patient begins to eat, they shed tears copiously and uncontrollably. It seems to be a result of a neurological mix-up. The nerves stimulating the salivary gland instead stimulate the tear gland. First described by F A Bogorad, the condition was named Bogorad's syndrome, but quickly nicknamed Crocodile Tears syndrome. According to legends, crocodiles wept insincere tears while consuming their victims.


There is no established cure for the condition, but these days, botox is said to be a big help. By blocking signals to the nerves, it can keep people from tearing up involuntarily.

Image: Alias 0591

[Via Crocodile Tears Syndrome: Botulinum Toxin, Crocodile Tears Syndrome, Crocodile Tears Syndrome.]

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