Sneezing is a common experience we all share. It is your body’s method of removing anything that may be irritating the nose. Sneezing, in scientific terms, is also called sternutation.
If anything tickles or irritates the inside of your nose, you sneeze. But that’s not the only interesting thing about sneezes. Here are 11 surprising sneezing facts.
Sneezing is a muscular activity
Your body has a sneeze center that sends messages to all the muscles that have to work in sync to produce a sneeze. Some of these muscles are the chest muscles, muscles of your vocal cords, muscles in your throat, and the abdominal or belly muscles.
Working together, these muscles make you sneeze.
Sun can make you sneeze
Photic sneezers are people who sneeze when they are exposed to sunshine or bright light. One out of three people is a photic sneezer.
If you’re one, it means you may have gotten it from one of your parents. Photic sneezing is genetic and runs in the family.
Most people only sneeze two or three times when exposed to sunlight, but there have been records of people sneezing up to 40 times in a row. The interesting thing is that light itself does not trigger a response.
Instead, it’s the sudden increase in the intensity of light that triggers a sneeze. For example, if you’re already sitting in a brightly lit room, you won’t be sneezing non-stop. But if you’re in a moderately lit or dark room and go out in bright sunlight, you may start sneezing.
Eyes close during sneezing
Have you ever tried to sneeze with your eyes open? It’s only possible if you try really hard because you have to fight your body’s reflex. It’s not really known why this happens. Possibly, the brain sends a message to our eyes to close when a sneeze is coming.
Multiple sneezes are a thing
We all know someone who just cannot sneeze only once. They have to sneeze two or more times. That’s because their first sneeze wasn’t strong enough to remove the itchy particles from the nose. So, the nose takes a few tries to get it out.
Mega sneezers have more lung capacity
You can hear some people sneezing all the way from the other side of the room. It’s because their lungs have more capacity and take in more air. The more air you take in, the louder your sneeze is.
Sneeze etiquette is important
When you sneeze, droplets come out of your mouth and nose. They can travel through air or land on objects around you. If someone else touches these surfaces, they can become exposed to any virus or bacteria in your body fluids.
This is how most infectious diseases, such as flu, spread. You should cover your mouth with your elbow when sneezing.
Don’t hold it in
Often, out of embarrassment, we try to hold our sneezes in. However, you shouldn’t do that since it can be dangerous. Sneezes tend to be very powerful. When you hold them in, pressure builds up in the nasal passages and can damage the blood vessels in your eyes or nose.
You sneeze four times daily
On average, a person sneezes and blows their nose four times a day. This number was taken after monitoring 80 medical students and hospital employees over two weeks. The study concluded that sneezing more than that indicates the presence of rhinitis, which is an inflammatory disease.
Sneezes travel at 100 miles per hour
Your sneeze can travel at a speed of 100 miles per hour. A study conducted at the University of Bristol showed that a sneeze or cough could have a speed of 100 miles per hour, sending 100,000 germs into the air.
These germs could be adenovirus, causing the common cold, or influenza, which causes the flu.
This is why you should sneeze in your elbow or a tissue, which has to be discarded later. Otherwise, you can spread germs to people who are not even in close contact with you.
You don’t sneeze while sleeping
Have you ever wondered why you don’t sneeze while sleeping? It’s because the nerves that stimulate the sneeze centers are also resting.
Since they don’t activate the sneeze center, you can’t sneeze even if something is irritating your nose.
Sneezes can cover a radius of five feet
Your sneeze can radiate five feet from where you are.
That’s why the social distancing guidelines for the novel coronavirus specified being six feet apart. Since a person standing or sitting five feet from you can be exposed to the fluids in your sneeze, you can make them sick even without touching them.
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Medically Reviewed on 11/10/2021
Cleveland Clinic: “Trying to Hold That Sneeze In? Better Not if You Know What’s Good for You.”
Journal Of The Royal Society Interface: “Assessing the airborne survival of bacteria in populations of aerosol droplets with a novel technology.”
Kids Health: “What Makes Me Sneeze?”
Library of Congress: “Does your heart stop when you sneeze?”
Medical Genetics Summaries: “ACHOO Syndrome.”
Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man: “ACHOO SYNDROME.”
Queensland Health: “Sneezing 101 – what is a sneeze, why do we sneeze and how to sneeze safely.”
Rhinology: “How often do normal persons sneeze and blow the nose?”