Five weird and interesting facts about sneezing
With fall allergy season upon us, the sneezes, stuffy noses and seasonal symptoms will soon be here infull force. Of them all, a good sneeze can stop you dead in your tracks, but for a bodily function soabrupt and random most of us rarely stop to think about what exactly happens in the body every timeyou reach for a tissue.
Here are a few facts you may not have known about this everyday activity:
1. A sneeze is your nose "rebooting"
According to research conducted at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia and published in theJournal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, researchers sought to answerwhy humans sneeze by comparing the nasal cells of humans and mice and how each clear the substancefrom their nasal cavities. The study authors concluded that a sneeze is the nose rebooting, similar tohow a computer restarts. A sneeze is a nerve transmission that tells the brain that there is something inthe nose that needs to be cleared out, thus triggering the immune response.
2. Sneezing is impossible during sleep
Have you ever wondered why you aren't jarred awake in the middle of the night with a sneezing fit?When you go to sleep, those same nerves that trigger sneezes and help expel pollen, dust and danderfrom your nasal cavities get some shut-eye as well. These nerves will remain dormant until you wake upand start your day.
3. Sneezing can alter your heartbeat
The old myth that your heart stops when you sneeze is untrue, but sneezing could change the rhythm ofyour heartbeat in some cases. A sneeze is a result of a change in pressure in our chests, which can alterblood flow and the overall rhythm of your heartbeat. While it may feel like your heart flutters or skips abeat during a sneeze, it is still working properly!
4. Sunlight can make you sneeze
Pollen, dust and other particulates aren't the only sneeze catalysts. About 1 in 4 people have a reactionto sunlight called a "photic sneeze reflex." Scientists are split over the direct cause of this reaction, butmany expect that the same message that the brain receives to shrink the pupils in the eyes whenexposed to bright light may cross paths with the message the brain receives to sneeze. If you findyourself sneezing in the sun, this may be why!
5. Sneeze particles can travel up to 5 feet
There's a reason why your parents told you to cover your mouth while sneezing since childhood! Asneeze moves with such force and the mucus particles are so tiny that it's very likely they can travelacross a room, often 5 feet or more in front of you. Ideally, use a tissue or your elbow to block the sprayfrom a sneeze so you don't spread germs on your hands to doorknobs and other surfaces that otherscould come into contact with.
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