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Why do we feel hot and cold as pain?

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Why do we feel hot and cold as pain?

When we feel something too hot or cold, our senses register pain. But why? And what’s causing it?

On the face of things, a hot waffle iron wouldn't seem to have all that much in common with a block of ice. But the two objects share the same capacity to inflict pain. Extreme heat and extreme cold are both able to deliver a nasty blow to human skin, and it turns out that the brain monitors these thermal extremes in similar ways.

We often think of the skin – and the nerves embedded within it – as being primarily responsible for the sense of touch, but what biologists refer to as "somatosensation" actually encompasses a broad range of senses.

Read more: BBC Future

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