Fun Facts about Sneezing You Probably Don't Know

Ah, the mighty sneeze! We all recognize it when we hear it - that loud and sudden outburst of air coming from a person's nose and mouth. But have you ever taken the time to think about why we actually sneeze? Or maybe you've wondered what happens in our bodies when we do? Well, if so, then you've come to the right place! In this post, I'll be talking all about sneezing – from its scientific explanations to some fun facts about it – as we explore exactly why we all make this funny little noise. So grab your tissues…it's time for a lesson on the science behind one of nature's common reactions: sneezing!

Sneezing is a physiological mechanism to clear allergens and foreign particles from your nose. The tickling sensation in your nostrils is caused when foreign particles like dirt, smoke, dust, or dirt enter and irritate your nose. This triggers your body to clear the nose, making you sneeze. Sneezing is also considered your body's first defense to clear out bacteria and bugs.

What happens during a sneeze?

When a foreign particle enters your nose, it interacts with the delicate skin and tiny hairs (cilia) in your nasal passage. This triggers a tinge in the delicate lining, which sends a signal to your brain, informing your brain to clear the nose. Then your brain signals your body to expel the particle through a contraction. When that happens, your muscles get contracted, forcing your eyes to get shut, and your tongue touches the top of the mouth.

Sneezing, aka Sternutation, expels mucus, air, and water from your nose with a significant force, which may contain microbes, viruses, and other pathogens, leading to spreading diseases like flu.

Can sneezing be dangerous?

Sneeze can be dry or wet, with slimy liquid coming from your nose and mouth. It doesn't always mean you are sick. It can happen when particles like animal dander, pollen, dust, or debris enter your nose. Surprisingly, it can occur when you stare at a bright light or the sun, mostly in people sensitive to bright light.

According to Mayo Clinic, one can expel air at 30-40 mph or more through a single sneeze, which is dangerous for people around you if you are sick with an infectious disease like cold and flu viruses. Doctors recommend that people use a tissue or cover their noses with their elbows while sneezing.

You should wash your hands with soap whenever you sneeze. Then apply sanitizer. This will stop you from spreading the virus or bacteria to others.

When you are sick with a cold or flu, you should clean your hands using soap after using the bathroom or before eating.

What could a sneeze indicate?

Sneezing could mean you have a common cold, hay fever, allergic rhinitis, or a foreign particle entering your nasal passage.

It could also indicate a common cold or flu. Sometimes, there could be other reasons, such as nasal congestion, cough, and low-grade fever.

Other symptoms you may experience in the flu are stuffy or runny nose, mild headache or body ache, sore throat, and general weakness.

You may also get sneeze if you have hay fever or allergic rhinitis. Some of their symptoms are an itchy nose, eyes, the roof of the mouth, a runny or stuffy nose, and conjunctivitis (watery, red, or swollen eyes).

Fun facts about sneezing

You can control your sneezing to a certain degree

Sneezing is an involuntary movement of the body. Meaning you cannot control it at all. However, there are certain cases and degrees to which you can control it. Some people are sensitive to bright light, making them sneeze while staring at it. Looking away from the light source might stop the relentless sneezing you are experiencing.

Sneezing can change the rhythm of your heart

Sneezing can change the rhythm of your heartbeat, but it doesn't make your heart stop, as some people believe.

Sneezing increases the intrathoracic pressure in your body. This decreases the blood flow to the heart. As a result, your heart compensates itself by changing its heartbeat. However, the electric activity in your heart keeps on running.

Sneezes also build up pressure in your chest, causing a vagal reaction in the vagus nerve, which is related to the nervous system controlling the heart. This is why sneezing can slow down your heart for a second. Even if it could stop your heart, it is not a matter of concern as your heart can keep running in a slower heartbeat for several seconds.

You can sneeze while staring at the sun or bright light

Research says one in three people is a photic sneezer (a person who sneezes when exposed to bright light or sun). It is a genetic condition and runs in the family.

Generally, a photic sneezer can sneeze up to three times on average when exposed. However, you will find cases of people sneezing up to 40 times in one go.

It is not actually the light that triggers the sneeze but the sudden increase in light intensity.

For example, if you are sitting in a low or moderately lit area and suddenly go into bright light, you are likely to sneeze. However, sitting in a brightly lit room won't make you constantly sneeze.

Sneezes travel about 100 miles per hour

A single sneeze can travel up to 100mph sending 100,000 germs into the air. The droplet in the cough can travel at 50mph. Meanwhile, the droplets in your sneeze can travel at 100mph.

Your breath travels at 4.5 ft/sec. The droplets from your sneeze travel at 6 ft/sec. That's why doctors recommend that people keep at least six feet from each other during the flu season.

Plucking your eyebrows can make you sneeze

The trigeminal in your facial nerves comprises branches extending from the brow to the tip of your nose. That's why when you pluck your eyebrows, it stimulates your facial nerves and makes you sneeze.

You cannot sneeze while sleeping

The nerves causing you to sneeze also sleep when you are asleep. That's why you will never find someone sneezing while sleeping. Sneezing is an involuntary reflex of your body.

But you may sneeze shortly after they wake up. However, you cannot sneeze when you are asleep. Have you noticed?


When you sneeze, it means the natural immune system of your body is working great.

Your body is trying to protect you by clearing the nose from viruses and bacteria.

When some foreign particle enters your nose, it triggers the "sneeze center" in the lower brain stem.

Your brain signals your throat, eyes, and mouth to close down, contracting your chest muscles vigorously and relaxing your throat muscles. This makes the air, saliva, and mucus to forced out of your mouth and nose.

Updated on: 05-Apr-2023


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