Does Your Heart Stop When You Sneeze? Yes or No?

February 4, 2018

Jelly Bell

Does Your Heart Stop When You Sneeze? Yes or No?

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“Ah-choo!” “Bless you!”

When sneezing, lots of simultaneous activities happen in your body. Your lungs shrink, your eyes are closed, you tongue pushes against your mouth’s roof, and your breath seems to be quicker than usual. So, is there anything happening to your heart? Does your heart stop when you sneeze?

Actually, there are two different currents of ideas.

  • Some doctors reckon that your heart stops shortly, but it won’t influence the entire health.
  • Meanwhile, the majority of doctors affirm that the blood circulation towards the heart might be reduced for a short time; however, your heart continues working. It’s because it needs to compensate the blood supply via altering heartbeats a bit.

Which one is correct? Down here and you will know instantly.

Why does the idea of heart-stopping appear?

The reason why you always hear an expression “Bless you” after sneezing is maybe the origin of the mistrust that the heart stops if you sneeze. Although people think that wishing the blessings from God will help you, this is just a myth.

What does a sneeze work?

A sneeze often starts with a tickling sensation in the back of your nose. Instantly, the nerve endings transmit a message to the brain that something is annoying your nasal passages. Then the brain delivers a signal so that your body can remove it.

Next, the body prepares itself via taking a deep breath and tensing the chest muscles. When the pressure in the lungs raises, your eyes close, your tongue comes to the mouth’s roof, and your breath moves out very fast from your nose.

The increased pressure in the chest might alter your blood flow that will make your heartbeat delay a little. For this reason, it will be slightly more powerful than your regular heartbeats, leading people to believe that the heart will stop when sneezing.

Does your heart stop when you sneeze?

Before taking up on the medical side, you should know this issue first.  

For instance, when you want to sneeze and you cannot, it’s annoying, right? So, what will you do? Drink carbonated beverages, raise your head up, look for THINGS THAT MAKE YOU SNEEZE or even learn HOW TO MAKE YOURSELF SNEEZE from different sources. And after making a successful sneeze, you will get a great feeling.

sneezing gives you great feeling
Sneezing Gives You Great Feeling

In case your heart stops while sneezing, will you still feel great?  

Let’s turn back to the above question of “does your heart stop when you sneeze”  and find an answer now!

According to Department of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, if you sneeze, your heart won’t exactly stop.  

When sneezing happens, the intrapleural pressure in the body increases for a short time. This will lessen the blood turn back to your heart. Hence, the heart changes its regular heartbeat directly to adjust the blood flood. However, this won’t make your heart stop.

Although Dr. David Rutlen, a heart specialist in Little Rock, agreed with this explanation, he said that the heart might hold in place for seconds if the pressure in your chest might create a vagal reaction, which can control and delay the heart a bit. To Dr. Rutlen, if your heart stops momentarily, you should not worry too much [1].

In a word, the answer that you will receive is NO.

What will happen to your body when sneezing?

Now you know the answer to the question of “does your heart stop when you sneeze,” right? Of course, you are still alive after sneezing. But, is there anything special or weird happening to your body? Try viewing below now!

Sneeze begins in the nose but occurs in the brain

Sternutation occurs in two places. The first one is your respiratory phase which is the stimulus that makes you sneeze. When feeling the tickling sensation, one of the 12 nerves, called the trigeminal nerve, run into your skull to your face and nose.

At the end of this nerve, there is a whole group of small receptors that are responsive to different things. And that’s where the trigger occurs.

When the trigger is powerful enough, it launches a reflexive action that hits a part of your brain, called the lateral medulla. This is the thing that warns your body it’s time to sneeze. After that, the signal reaches the rest of your body involved.

Your eyes will be damaged if you don’t close it when sneezing

Is this above statement true? Will your eyes pop right out of your head if you don’t close your eyes and sneeze? No, it won’t because your eyes will close every time you have a sneeze.  

This action is actually an unconditional reflex when your brain receives the message that you’re going to sneeze. And this will close your eyes. So, don’t worry that you can damage your eyes if you don’t close them since you can’t open while sneezing.

But, you might get hurt in some cases

If you hold back a sneeze, what will happen? According to the Cleveland Clinic, this will create some dangerous pressures inside your skull. And in some situations, it might hurt your sinuses, eardrums and even give yourself an ear infection.

Let’s bring out the meaning!

With a speed of about 40 mph, a sneeze can travel up to 30 feet. By stopping sneezing, the pressure from the sneeze might carry into your skull and sinuses. And this results in tiny gaps in your bones between the eyes and nose or the brain and nose. Although these gaps have practical heal on their own, it’s not a great ideal to hold in sneezes.

The best thing is to sneeze because this action helps to remove mucus holding exterior particles that irritate and clean your nasal cavity. And now, do you understand WHY DOES SNEEZING FEEL GOOD, don’t you?

Your body will brace for this impact

Although the question of “does your heart stop when you sneeze” is answered No, there is still a lot of force coming out of your face. Moreover, some parts of your body’s reflex will brace for this influence.

In a short time (2 or 3 seconds), the muscles in the upper body tense while the muscles in the throat shrink. And this shrinkage gives your sneeze its power, ejecting over 5,000 little droplets from your nose and mouth.

7 interesting facts about sneezing that you should not miss

Does your heart stop when you sneeze? If this question is one of many myths related to the sternutation, you will be surprised of a series of other facts that we’re going to introduce.

Which factors can create a sneeze?

WHY DOES PEPPER MAKE YOU SNEEZE? It might be one of the first reasons since the pepper has an active agent, called piperine. And if your nose contact this agent, it will act as an irritation that stimulates the nerve endings within the nose and causes sneezing.

Besides, pollen, dust, feather, pungent aromas and other pesky allergies are the usual causes to make you sneeze.  However, do you know that sunlight can create the similar thing?

pepper can cause you to sneeze
Pepper Can Cause You To Sneeze

About one in four people sneeze when they are exposed to sunlight, and this reaction is called a photic sneeze reflex. According to the scientists, your brain receives the message to contract the pupils in the occurrence of sunlight that might cut cross paths with the signal the brain gets to sneeze [2].

Sneeze in twos or threes, is it normal?

Generally, sneezing is an action for your body to reboot your nasal environment by removing any irritating particles and returning the proper level of mucus. But, you are sometimes unable to get rid of it with just one sneeze. So, you need to make another sneeze or two to eject the foreign particles out of your nose.

Can you sneeze while sleeping?

When you’re in a deep sleep, the muscles that control a sneeze will become paralyzed. Even when you’re in shallow sleep, the neurons that make a sneeze are suppressed as well. Hence, you cannot sneeze when going to bed.

Why do you make a little sneeze than the others?

After knowing the answer “does your heart stop when you sneeze,” you won’t worry about sneezing because it’s not a bad thing. However, you might wonder why some have little, dainty sneezes while the others don’t. Are they still anxious about this theory?

Truly, the ones who sneeze with a loud sound has some issues related to their lung capacity. The larger the breath, the louder the sneeze. Got it?

In addition, according to a 2006 study, making a little sneeze is a conscious action. In the polite society, people try to create the least amount of noise as they possibly can. And when they put more control over, they will sneeze like mice.

There is another side as well, but it’s somewhat embarrassing. Have you ever smelt a bad odor after sneezing and wondered WHY DO MY SNEEZE SMELL?

There are many reasons why your sneezes smell bad or foul. Sinus infection is known as one of the biggest causes since it comes with stagnant nasal and sinus secretions that become decayed in the nose and grow bad smell. Besides, bad breath or halitosis creates a foul smell after sneezing.

How you sneeze will show your personality

Do you know that the way you sneeze can reveal interesting information about your inner self? There are truly 4 main kinds of sneezes that are believed for each type of person.

  • You are always careful to cover your mouth when sneezing. To you, dignity is fundamental.
  • You don’t want to sneeze on others and try to hold in sneezes. This illustrates that you’re a quiet and caring person.
  • You don’t often care about people surrounding and make a loud sound while sneezing. Even, you can sneeze many times at once. This shows a showy and controlling character.
  • You sneeze quickly and don’t pay attention to its loud or small sound. That means you’re a forward and direct thinker.

How about sneezing in space?

Sneezing might be a small matter on Earth, but it can become serious in space. Try to imagine that an astronaut sneezes when he is wearing a helmet. What happens?

According to a report from NASA, three astronauts in the crew of the Apollo VII had developed intense head colds during their 11-day-journey in orbit. Although it only occurred one, sneezing has caused serious issues for NASA [3].

Why people say “Bless you” after someone sneezes

This expression appeared from the ancient Romans and Greeks since they believed that the custom of asking for God’s blessing would protect you from certain death while sneezing or remove the spirit from your body. To other ancient cultures, they thought that sneezing stopped evil spirits from entering your body.

Therefore, this expression is used to guard both the person sneezed and others surrounding.

But, when you’re here, you will come to the following conclusion that the theory of “does your heart stop when you sneeze” has just originated from superstition.


The idea of “does your heart stop when you sneeze” or a big “ah-choo” might damage your eyes if you don’t close them are some of the myths with unclear origins, and neither makes much sense.

Sneezing or sternutation is an unconditional reflex centered in a part of the brainstem which is called the medulla. When something excites your upper lining inside the nose, the nerves will carry the signal to the medulla. And then a series of triggers happens including your eyes close, your chest shrinks, and your lungs remove a burst of air.

Just remember one important thing that the heart won’t stop while making a sneeze. No matter how hard you sneeze, your heart keeps beating. And make sure you cover your mouth first to prevent the spread of disease as well as other issues.

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