The Ultimate Guide To Things That Make You Sneeze

March 9, 2018


The Ultimate Guide To Things That Make You Sneeze

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We tend to overlook some of our bodies functions, thinking you don’t have to notice them since they’re yours right at the moment you were born. Like breathing which helps bring oxygen in to nourish your cells, sneezing also plays a vital part in your overall wellness.

Without sneezing, dust around us can block our nostrils, preventing air from getting in or strange particles can get inside your lung, causing severe damage there. The importance of sneezing is undeniable; however, do we really understand what it is and how it functions?

In fact, many people find sneezing annoying, especially when you are in a social setting like in a cinema or in the middle of a meeting. How uncomfortable it looks to have a sneeze in front of so many people. It is true that you don’t feel very polite sneezing in public. Yet if you understand the mechanism of sneezing and things that make you sneeze, you will probably have a different opinion on sneezing.

This article will help you understand more about sneezing, how it forms, things that make you sneeze and how to stop sneezing. Read on!

How does a sneeze form?

Without oxygen, the respiration process can’t complete, our inner organisms can’t function; therefore breathing clean air is vital for our survival. When we breathe in, not only air comes in but also a lot of strange elements outside wants to get in as well. To make sure those strange things don’t block the airflow and cause damage once getting in, sneezing is a smart invention of our body to do the job.

Sneezing is a wonderful protective act of our body. When irritants such as dirt, dust, and pollen get inside your nose, a message will be sent to the part of the nervous system called “sneezing center.” It is located in the pressor region of the medulla [1].

It all starts with a tickling sensation inside your nose. Thousand tinny receptors located in the trigeminal nerve will receive the sensation and determine whether the sensation is alarming. Afterwards, they will send signals to that part of your brain and what happens next is a sneeze to push out all the irritants.

Have you noticed that when sneezing we tend to close our eyes? Not only your nose involves in the sneezing mechanism. Your lung prepares for an air force upwards. Your throat is closed to prevent air getting out from your mouth during sneezing.

When you sneeze, your eyes shut, your mouth opens, and all the muscles in your throat, mouth, and face add to the process of cleaning your nostrils. All of those lasts only a few seconds!

The air forces through your nose are somewhere around 40 to 100 mph. Together with irritants, there are over 2000 bacteria-contained drops flying out of your nose and mouth. That’s the reason why sneezing is the quickest way for diseases to spread.

Most of the time, you only sneeze once. However, if you notice, sometimes you sneeze two or three times. Where does that come from? Two or three sneezes at a time indicate that irritants get stuck and one sneeze is not enough to expel them. As long as the receptors still feel the sensation, you will keep sneezing until all of the unwanted things get out of your nose.   

After reading this, you may feel the awe of how wonderful and complicated our sneezes are. It is a defensive mechanism to protect our bodies. Even though sneezing can be pretty embarrassing sometimes, sneezing has many wonderful health benefits.

Apart from cleaning your nose, sneezing resets your nasal passages and the nerves inside. Therefore, you often feel very relaxing after a sneeze. If you want to find more information about this, the article WHY DOES SNEEZING FEEL GOOD? HERE’S WHY will help you.  

At the same time, there are many old wives tales about sneezing. Before getting to know things that make you sneeze, let’s have a look at what tales about sneezing and whether if they are true.

Strange beliefs about sneezing

Sneezing will stop your heart

Sneezing may increase the pressure in the blood vessels, but the pressure is not strong enough to cease the beating heart.

Weird as it sounds but this belief has been around for ages. While some people erase all doubts by scientific proofs, some still somewhat believe this is possible. So DOES YOUR HEART STOP WHEN YOU SNEEZE? YES OR NO? Good news is your brain does not signal your heart to stop. Sneezing may increase the pressure in the blood vessels, but the pressure is not strong enough to cease the beating heart.

Your eyes will pop out if you sneeze with eyes

First of all, most of us shut our eyes voluntarily while sneezing. This is part of the defensive mechanism to protect our eyes from any strange things flying in our eyes while you are busy sneezing.

Secondly, your eyes are not balls inside your eye sockets. If so, the only things to keep your eyes from falling out are your eyelids, which make it extremely dangerous. In fact, your eyes are attached to your eye sockets with muscles. That’s why you can scroll your eyes or move them left or right with ease.

Some strange factors make some people sneeze with their eyes open, but most us, you and me, sneeze with our eyes closed. Therefore, there is no way for your eyes to pop out!

There is no way for your eyes to pop out!

Sneezing while sleeping

Have you ever found yourself waking up in the middle of the night because you had sneezed too loud? No? Due to the brain and body function during sleep, we can hardly have a sneeze [2]. REM stands for rapid eye movement, indicates that our eyes move under our lids. This is also the dream stage. While non-REM means your eyes stop moving and you enter a peaceful and quite stage of mind.

When you are in non-REM sleep, most of your sensory parts of your brains are inactive. Besides, while in bed, you are less exposed to irritants than while you are outside. Therefore, it is not likely to have a sneeze while you sleep.

Things that make you sneeze

Now it’s time to find the cause of your sneeze. Do you know about things that make you sneeze?


When our noses expose to a small amount of pepper, we suddenly feel a strong need to sneeze. Pepper is one of the things that make you sneeze. But WHY DOES PEPPER MAKE YOU SNEEZE?

No matter what color peppers may have, they all contain a chemical element called piperine. Piperine once gets inside our nose will stimulate the trigeminal nerve. Your brain will receive the signal at once and allow the nose to get rid of piperine as soon as possible.

Piperine can linger long inside your nose. Therefore, if you notice, you will sneeze several times until all the irritants are out.


Sneezing is the earliest symptom of a cold. While it’s not disruptive, it is somehow annoying when you have to excuse yourself and “ah-choo” all the time. What triggers sneezing when you catch a cold?

When you have a cold, your mucous membranes inside your nose is likely inflamed. The inflammation of the mucous membranes is common when you have a cold. It expels every tiny irritant out of your nose, makes rooms for the immune cells to work.

Another reason why a cold is listed among those things that make you sneeze is that of histamine [3]. When you catch a cold, your body will release histamine to fight. Histamine can also a trigger to sneezes.

Sometimes, you will notice that your sneeze is smelly especially when you have a cold. Want to know why? Let’s have a look at WHY DO MY SNEEZES SMELL?

Allergic rhinitis

Allergic rhinitis is often known by its other name: hay fever. Hay fever is your body’s response to allergic elements. Tree pollen is one of the most common things that make you sneeze. Others include grass pollen, dust, dirt, animal furs and dander, mold, and cat saliva.

There are two kinds of hay fever: seasonal and perennial. People who suffer from seasonal hay fever often sneeze during spring and fall when flowers blossom outside. Perennial allergic rhinitis happens all year around when you expose to any kinds of irritants inside or outside your house.

Nonallergic rhinitis

While you are not sensitive to any specific allergic elements, if you sneeze frequently, you likely have nonallergic rhinitis. Rhinitis is actually the inflammation of the mucous membrane, which often caused by virus and bacteria. Nonallergic rhinitis refers to the over-activeness of the parasympathetic nerve [4].

Other strange sneeze triggers

When the receptors sense irritants, they transmit the signal through the nerve channel to your brain. It is the signal that starts the whole sneezing thing. Most of the time our noses recognize irritants well; however, sometimes, it can make mistakes by falsely recognize harmless things to irritants that make you sneeze.

  •  One out of three people suffer from light sensitivity. Whenever the face bright sunlight, they sneeze. Light sensitivity is actually a trait you inherit from your parents. Therefore, there is no cure for it.
  • Sex is also a sneeze trigger. Researchers show that the parasympathetic nervous system is the main cause of sneezing after sex.
  • Exercise can also be listed as one of the things that make you sneeze. How come? When you exercise, you will hyperventilate which causes your mouth and nose to dry. Sneezing helps provide moisture to the parts of your body.
  • Alcohol can also trigger a sneeze. Some doctors believe that the blood vessels inside our nose are what to blame. When stimulated, it will cause mucus production, thus making you sneeze.
  • Funny as it seems but chewing gum can also make you sneeze, especially when you use mint chewing gum. The mint scent is so strong that sometimes it triggers a sneeze.

How to make yourself sneeze

Sneezing is an automatically defensive mechanism of your body against strange things that make you sneeze listed above. Most of the time, the mechanism goes smoothly, but there are certain times you will experience the feeling when you want to sneeze but you can’t sneeze. That feeling is not at all comfortable. It’s the time you need to lend your body a hand by trying to make yourself sneeze.

Is it possible to make myself sneeze? Yes, it is. By using things that make you sneeze, you can stimulate your receptors and trigger a sneeze. Since there are so many things that make you sneeze, you need to be a little bit skeptical before using them to make yourself sneeze.

For example, you can’t go out in the bright sunlight to try to make yourself sneeze if you are not light sensitive. Sex and alcohol should also be out of the list. Pepper is a good candidate if you only use a small amount since it can be pretty dangerous for your respiratory system.

What else can you use to make yourself sneeze? If you wonder which things and how to use them to make yourself sneeze, the article HOW TO MAKE YOURSELF SNEEZE: TOP 9 INCREDIBLE WAYS will be helpful.

Is it possible to stop a sneeze?

Is it possible to stop a sneeze before it coming? In fact, it is possible but not advisable. It’s understandable to stop a sneeze sometimes since in some social settings, it’s considered rude to have a sneeze. You can’t just sneeze on the stage while acting in a play or while giving an emotional speech.

However, no matter how big or small the sneeze is, you shouldn’t try to stop it. Especially, if you are about to have a forceful sneeze, don’t dare to stop it. Otherwise, you will find yourself in the hospital with your throat tearing apart.

A recent case report by the BMJ has a story to warn everybody. A healthy man in the UK had to spend a week in the ER (emergency room) because he had tried to stop a sneeze. After successfully preventing the sneeze, he immediately felt pain in his throat and later lost his voice and ability to swallow.

Fortunately, the man did recover. After a week in the hospital, he could eat and talk. And the next check-up didn’t show any problems. Though this case is extremely rare, held-in sneezing can cause coughing, vomiting, and damages to your vocal folds. Therefore, you need to be careful when stopping a sneeze.

How to prevent sneezing

While you can’t stop a sneeze, you can prevent it from happening if sneezing is derived from a common cold or other nasal problems.

Keep yourself away from the source of irritants

If you suffer from seasonal hay fever, it is better to stay away from public places where lots of flowers and grass are. It is also wise not to keep animals inside and grow flowers around your house.

Keep yourself from catching a cold

The best way to stay away from sneezing is to stay healthy and not having a cold. When the weather changes, it is the time when most people catch a cold. You can try to prevent it by eating healthy vegetables and fruits, especially citrus fruits. Keep your body warm, especially your head and foot. Drink enough water to make sure your body is moisturized.

Home-made remedies for sneezing

There are certain remedies that can help you when you sneeze.

  • Chamomile tea is a great remedy if you have allergic rhinitis. Drink it two times each day will help you survive during the flower blooming season.  
  • Ginger and mint: Sneezing because of a cold? Find a bowl of hot water, give it several drops of mint and ginger essential oils (or you can just use mint and ginger) and let your face rest over it for a while. It will help cease the sneeze and also the cold as well.
Chamomile tea is a great remedy if you have allergic rhinitis.

Bottom Line

There are many things that make you sneeze from dirt, pollen, pepper to strange things such as chewing gum and sex. No matter which triggers a sneeze, sneezing is an important defensive act of our body. This understanding will help you have a positive view of sneezing.

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