12 Weird Facts You Never Knew About Sneezing

Updated: Mar. 27, 2018

Achoo! We're about to blow your mind with these facts that are nothing to sneeze at.


Sneezing is a reflex

The reason that we sneeze is because our bodies are reacting to irritants—including dust, pollen, and animal dander—in the nose lining. When these irritants get into our noses, our brain receives a signal to get rid of them and we sneeze. You take a deep breath and hold it, causing the muscles in the chest to tighten. That pressure forces your tongue against the top of your mouth and the air to travel quickly out of your nose when you release your breath.


Sneezing is our body rebooting

Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania reported on why we sneeze in the Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. They concluded that we need to reset our nasal cavity every so often… and we do that by sneezing. Don’t miss these strange facts about the human body you never knew.


Your heart does not stop when you sneeze

That’s a myth. But the rhythm of your heart can change when you sneeze. This happens because the pressure in your chest changes and alters your blood flow.


A sneeze can travel up to 100 miles an hour

Because the air is moving out of your nose so quickly you typically make a noise. The faster the air moves, the louder the sneeze.


The spray from your sneeze can travel five feet or more

This is why it’s extremely important to cover your mouth with your elbow when you sneeze and prevent spreading a cold. Marjorie L. Slankard, MD, an associate attending physician and director of the Allergy Clinic at Columbia-New York Presbyterian Medical Center told everydayhealth.com that the reason your sneeze can travel so far is because it moves with a lot of force and the mucus particles are very tiny. (Learn more about what really happens to your body when you sneeze.)


Sneezing is a workout

One sneeze engages your throat, chest, diaphragm, and abdomen.


The color of your mucus means something

Your nose produces one to two pints of mucus every day. Typically, that mucus should be clear. If your mucus is green, yellow, or brown it could mean that you have an infection and you should see your doctor. White cells working to fight the infection in your mucus are what causes it to change color.


A single sneeze can produce up to 40,000 droplets

Yuck! Please sneeze into your elbow! Don’t miss all the ways to say “bless you” around the world.


Your eyes will close automatically when you sneeze

When your brain receives the signal to sneeze it also signals your eyes to close. You can’t keep them open, it’s an involuntary action.


Trying to hold in a sneeze can hurt

Not many cases have been reported, but attempting to hold in a sneeze can cause broken blood vessels in the eyes, damaged blood vessels in the brain, and/or ruptured eardrums. Alan Wild, an assistant professor of otolaryngology at Saint Louis University School of Medicine, told livescience.com that he would never recommend attempting to hold in a sneeze ever. However, there are ways to suppress the urge to sneeze. Wild recommends rubbing your nose, forcing a deep heavy breath out of your nose, or pressing your upper lip underneath your nose. (This is why you should never hold in a sneeze. )


You can’t sneeze when you’re asleep

While you’re sleeping, the nerves that cause you to sneeze are also resting.


There is a reason you sneeze multiple times in a row

Dr. Slankard told everydayhealth.com that it has to do with what causes us to sneeze in the first place. Since the act of sneezing is your body’s way of clearing out irritants from your nose, it might take a few tries to get them all out. Here are some of the reasons you can’t stop sneezing—and what to do about it.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest