So much to know about sneezing

So much to know about sneezing

Everybody does it.  Even animals do it.  But how much do we know about it? 

Sneezing happens all the time; sometimes it’s a reaction to something in the air. Sometimes there doesn’t seem to be a reason at all. Most of the time, we sneeze without thinking about it.  Since sneezing doesn’t usually get more attention than an impulsive “Bless you,” here are some fun facts about sneezing. 

  1. High speeds – according to MythBusters, sneezes can travel between 30 and 35 miles per hour.  Other sources have claimed that sneezes can travel up to 100 miles per hour.   
  2. The purpose of a sneeze – is to give our nose a restart.  According to Science Daily, when a person sneezes, it resets that nasal passage environment so that “unwelcome” particles coming in through the nose can be trapped.
  3. The origin of “God bless you” – is questionable, according to  Some people think that it was started in Rome during the time of the bubonic plague, when it is believed that Pope Gregory VII advised saying a prayer every time someone sneezed in order to protect them from the plague.  Another theory is that “God bless you” started as a superstition to ask God to keep your soul from being expelled during a sneeze.  Others think that sneezing forces out evil spirits from the body, putting those around you in harm’s way.  “God bless you” was meant to protect everyone from the evil spirits.
  4. It’s normal to sneeze in multiples – since the “unwelcome” particles can take a few attempt to kick out, it’s normal to sneeze multiple times, reported Everyday Health.
  5. You close your eyes involuntarily – NBC News reported that eyes close as a reflex when sneezing.  Closing your eyes is part of the direction to sneeze that your brain receives. 
  6. Your heart does not stop when sneezing – According to the New York Times, your heart rate may slow down just a little bit because of nerve stimulation, but it does not stop. 
  7. Let it out – if a sneeze is held back, in rare cases, it can lead to broken blood vessels in the eye or ruptured ear drums

With the high speeds and long distances germs can travel with a sneeze, Dr. Jennifer DeBruler, an internal medicine physician with Advocate Medical Group in Libertyville, Ill., reminds us that, “It is important to cover your nose and mouth when you sneeze and wash your hands after every sneeze.”

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  1. Very interesting! I remember hearing growing up that when you sneeze, your soul popped out from your body–the “God bless you,” was to bless it back in. So, for a time, I was so worried about sneezing when I was alone!

  2. Lynn Hutley

    Love it, Tim. I was just told that your eyeballs would pop out if your eyes were open during a sneeze.

  3. My daughter sneezes almost everytime she walks outside into the sunlight – anyone know why?

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health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Aurora Health sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.