Why do people sneeze?

Andrey Kim
Andrey Kim
March 6, 2015
Why do people sneeze?

"Be healthy!" - we say to the person who sneezed. However, sneezing is not always a precursor of the disease - a cold, allergic or something else, in many cases it is just a reaction to an unpleasant or sharp smell.

We sneeze or hear someone sneezing almost every day, but surprisingly, we know very little about this process. So why do people sneeze?

What is sneezing?

The scientific definition of sneezing is this: it is a protective unconditioned reflex, the task of which is to clear the airways of irritating substances - dust, mucus, etc. This reflex is found only in humans and higher animals.

Sneezing: causes

  • Irritation of the nasal mucosa by dust, allergens and other irritating substances. Among the most popular irritants emit: dust, pepper, coffee, tobacco smoke, perfume.
  • Colds and other diseases associated with lesions of the respiratory tract.
  • Sudden change of ambient temperature - by entering a warm apartment from a frosty street, you can sneeze.
  • Hormonal changes - pregnant women very often complain of causeless sneezing and swelling of the nasal mucosa, this phenomenon is called rhinitis of pregnant women.

Sneezing mechanism

As a result of one of these reasons, a person begins to feel a tickling in the nose. The body begins to prepare - first, you automatically take a deep breath, then the soft palate is lifted, the front arms of the pharynx contract, the back of the tongue rises to the hard palate, and the eyes close. Then intercostal muscles, diaphragm, rectus abdominis and laryngeal muscles contract. Finally, an energetic exhalation takes place with the opening of the nasopharynx - sneezing itself.

Interestingly, in England, a sneezed person says “Bless you”, which means “I bless you.” Such a phrase is connected with the fact that during sneezing the heart rhythm is lost by a millisecond - the heart stops.

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