Most of us have experienced it while in our class, meeting or at any other important commitments. Yes, sneezing, especially when we were suffering from some allergies, we can’t control it, but why do we sneeze? What’s the reason behind it? Well a sneeze is officially called as Sternutation. Sneezing is an involuntary activity of our body to clear our nose. Whenever a foreign matter such as dust, dirt, germs or anything that shouldn’t be there enters your nostrils, the nose get irritated and it sends a message to your brain. Then to remove the particle your brain sends a message to all of your muscles for a sudden exhalation process called a sneeze, and it would take only milliseconds for your brain to process this. In 2002, a study at Denmark’s department of Otorhinolaryngology at Rigshospitalet showed that 95% of people sneeze four times or less each day. Worldwide, we could be sneezing upwards of 7.8 billion times a day.
Cultural beliefs about sneezing
Many people think that sneeze is a sign of good luck, while others think it’s a bad sign. People in ancient Greece, 400 BC believed these sneezes are favorable sign from the gods. During the 6th century, the plague killed 200 million people all over the world; sneeze is also one of the symptoms of this disease. So people started to believe that sneeze is a sign of death and by saying “bless you” they thought it may prevent them from being infected and some used to consider as a final blessing. That’s why still some people say “God bless you” when someone sneeze.
Does really sneeze stops our heart?
Do you know? Your sneeze can create 100,000 droplets and it can travel up to 160 kilometers (100 miles) an hour. Yes it’s more likely a faster way to spread diseases than a cough. So while sneezing, our heart stops for a second and start after that? Well it seems like it takes a break but, it’s not the case. Usually we inhale deeply before sneezing; this increases the pressure in your chest and slows down the blood flow to your heart. The heart compensates this by changing to its regular beat right after we sneeze. So it only reduces the heart rate for a short period of time rather than stopping it. Do you know? The heart can continue to beat for a short time after being removed from the body because; it has its own electrical system that can pump blood as long as it gets oxygen. So a sneeze won’t stop the electrical activity of our heart.
Is holding your sneeze dangerous?
Most of us hate sneezing in awkward situations, it makes us embarrassed. Did you ever tried to hold your sneeze? If you did, the following incident will show why you should not. A 34 year old man has admitted to a hospital in the UK for serious neck infection. Doctors found that the pressure built from the sneeze cant able to escape as he blocked his nose and mouth. It causes rupture in the cavity that connects our nose and mouth called pharynx. It seems that he is trying to hold his sneeze every time for the last 30 years because, he feels that it would be unhygienic to sneeze into the atmosphere. He was hospitalized for a week and doctors treated him with the necessary antibiotics to cure the infection.
Sneezing is one of the primary defense systems in our body to get rid of harmful irritants in our nose. The entered irritant somehow should have to go out. So, don’t try to hold it, just let it happen.
“I used to wake up at 4 AM and start sneezing, sometimes for five hours. I tried to find out what sort of allergy I had but finally came to the conclusion that it must be an allergy to consciousness”. – James Thurber.