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Sneeze

March 7th, 2009

Apart from the astonishing and amazing activities that our human body is capable of doing and being able to execute these processes within a limited amount of time, there are also some unconscious, unaccounted and unrecorded things that immediately or abruptly happen.  An example of this would be the sudden formation of ideas in our minds.  Not to be merely discarded but these ideas are in nature and indeed great, innovative and may effect a greater function.

There are also things that happen because they just do happen.  The sad thing is these small things do happen in a natural way that most of us just ignore it.  Little do we know that these sudden changes inside and outside our body matters most.  Let us take the case of sneezing for instance.  So what about sneezing that affects us, as most of you would now ask.  Is there anything noteworthy about sneezing that we should know?  There “is” none, but there “are”.

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I.  Definition. By definition, the word “sneeze” means the sudden expiration of one’s breath through the nose and the mouth.  It is characterized by a rather loud sudden sound as a result of its reflexive act.  On a colloquial term, it is the “Achoo!” that we often do or hear from someone especially on cold and bright settings.  These are also often heard on a rather dusty environment or surrounding.

II. Causes and its physiologic nature. -  Scientists and doctors alike, state that the act of “sneezing” or “sternutation” is primarily caused by the irritation of our nasal mucosa (the dermal membrane inside our nose).  A foreign object that immediately comes in contact or irritates the inner part of our nose causes one to reflexively expulse air through the mouth and nose to get rid of the foreign particle that irritated it.  Some experts would say that sneezing can be possibly caused by one’s immediate or sudden exposure to bright light, the possibility of the abrupt climate and humidity changes in the environment or by simply having a full stomach.

The sternutation or the sneezing process commence once foreign particles or certain chemicals passes inside the hairs of our nose and reaches the membrane called the mucosa.  This event triggers the instant production of histamines (a particular kind of amino acid that acts as a transmitter that mostly brings attention or any other impulses.  These productions of histamines immediately give the signal to the brain and to the “V” nerve or the trigeminal nerve to initiate the sneezing.  The involvements of other body parts are immediately tapped to perform their respective function in order to execute the proper and perfect “sneeze”.  This whole process initiates when our pharyngeal and tracheal muscles starts to work by enabling our mouths to open and eventually release a gush of air combined with other particles that were previously on our mouths.  Scientists believe that the amount or the level of power that a sneeze has depend mostly on the combined working force of the organs of our body.  Basically, it is the muscles of our face, throat and chest that are pointed out to be those organs.

III. Other factors. -  Another factor attributable for sneezing is what scientists call as Photic Sneeze Reflex.  This event happens when a person is suddenly exposed to an extremely bright surrounding or environment.  Some experts are still in contention of this particular behavior of man when exposed suddenly to either direct sunlight or with other means.  It is then studied that almost 37% of individuals have or posses this kind of reflex, which is by the way, they further believed to be genetic in nature.

Another factor that causes one to sneeze is if you happen to have a full stomach.  Considered as rather an odd and rare fact about sneezing, having a full stomach triggers a medical disorder known as “Snatiation”.  A burst of sneezes is commonly displayed by a person as a result of the fullness of his stomach.  This kind of disorder occurs mostly after having a heavy meal and is also said to be genetic in nature.

IV.  Characteristics and other facts you might want to know. – Below are some fun and interesting facts about our subject of discussion:

  • Experts say that you cannot or one is incapable of sneezing while at sleep.  In this stage, certain body neurons and reflexes indicators are not stimulated and therefore cannot send the required signal or signals to the brain;
  • Contrary to the myth that your heart stops beating when you sneeze, a scientific study further shows it actually does not.  The sneezing process does change your blood flow and the rhythm of your heartbeat but does not necessarily stop functioning for a certain amount of time;
  • Various beliefs, superstitious or not, were the root causes why the words “Bless you” is uttered to a person who just sneezed (related article titled “Why do we say Bless You after a sneeze?” dated August 28, 2008);
  • Photic sneezing’s shortened name is the “ACHOO Syndrome” (Autosomal dominant Compelling Helio-Opthalmic Outburst);
  • How fast does a sneeze go? 100 miles per hour;
  • And the spray of either saliva or any other particle that goes with it reaches up to five feet;
  • A sneeze is also triggered when one actually plucks his or her eyebrows.  There are certain nerves located in the face that connects to our nasal nerves that could create an impulse that enables one to sneeze;
  • The person who holds the longest sneezing streak of being able to sneeze almost every minute was England’s Donna Griffiths.  Her usual day was spent entirely on sneezing.  She actually spent the 978 days of her life sneezing;
  • Doctors say that suppressing a sneeze can be dangerous.  It can further lead to problems like facial emphysema and other face and neck related discomforts;
  • You cannot possibly sneeze with your eyes open;
  • Doing some techniques with your nose sometimes do suppress a sneeze; and,
  • Saying “lamp” or “cucumber” repeatedly after sensing a sneeze to be coming, delays or stops it from happening.

And please for sanitation and other “sneezing purposes”, always make it a point to carry a tissue or a hanky.

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