August 16, 2023

Why Do We Sneeze? Dispelling Common Sneezing Myths

Why do we sneeze

Simply put, sneezing is the best way for your body to clear nasal passages so that you can continue breathing clean air. When foreign matter enters your nose, a sneeze, or several sneezes, is one of your body’s first lines of defenses against these particles. Beyond this general description, there are several commonly held myths about why we sneeze that need to be cleared up. In this article, we’ll dispel widespread sneezing myths, describe why people sneeze, and the step-by-step process of sneezing.

What Happens When You Sneeze?

We began feeling the need to sneeze when we sense particles, or a tickle, in the mucus membrane lining of our nose. The substance of these particles can range from bacteria, dander, smoke, mold, pollution, and much more. When we feel this tingle, a signal tells your brain that your nose needs to clear itself. This is done when the trigeminal nerve triggers an area of your brainstem called the medulla oblongata, which then activates your parasympathetic pathway. Activating this pathway will lead to teary eyes, increased nasal secretion, and sensitive respiratory muscles. Your diaphragm will contract as you inhale for a deep breath, which then leads to the glottis opening which releases a high velocity gust of air that expels mucus and particles from your nose and mouth.

Common Sneezing Facts & Myths

Below are some common questions and answers when it comes to sneezing:

  • Does Your Heart Stop When You Sneeze? No, fortunately your heart does not stop when you sneeze. While we may get a feeling that our heart skips a beat mid-sneeze, this is no more than just a feeling.
  • Is It Dangerous to Hold in a Sneeze? Experts all agree that it’s not a good idea to hold in a sneeze. One reason is because your body won’t have the opportunity to expel particles from your passageways. However, another reason is that holding in your sneeze could lead to pressure build-up which can rupture your ear drums or your blood vessels.
  • Does Looking at the Sun Help Us Sneeze? One in four people have photic light reflex, also called ACHOO syndrome (Autosomal-Dominant Compelling Helio-Ophthalmic Outburst syndrome), which is a genetic trait that stimulates the sneeze reflex when looking into bright lights.
  • Is it Strange to Derive Pleasure from Sneezing? It’s fairly normal to feel good immediately following a sneeze. Studies show that endorphins are released when an individual sneezes, which generates a pleasurable sensation in the brain.  
  • Why Do We Sneeze Multiple Times in Succession? Often, people will sneeze more than once. Someone will sneeze multiple times to adequately remove the irritated particles from their pathways.
  • Is There Any Way How to Stop Sneezing? There are ways to help prevent sneezing, such as avoiding triggers, using antihistamines, practicing good hygiene, using nasal sprays, and taking hot showers. However, sneezing is a natural reaction in the body and there’s no way to completely prevent sneezes.

How to Help Prevent Sneezing

Sneezing occurs when foreign particles enter and tickle the nasal passageways. Fortunately, O2 Nose Filters have been proven in controlled studies to help protect wearers from inhaling harmful airborne particles such as bacteria, viruses, dust, exhaust fumes, and other pollutants. Independent laboratory tests demonstrate that 3M’s Advanced Electret Media in O2 Nose Filters block 90% of particulates at PM10 and 65% of particulates at PM2.5. Additionally, O2 Nose Filters are comfortable to wear due to their latex-free design and medical-grade Thermoplastic Elastomer (TPE) materials.

3M’s patented AEM™ (Advanced Electret Media) filter technology relies on the principles of electrostatic attraction. The high capture ratios and extended breathability attributed to 3M’s AEM™ material allows airborne particles to be captured within the filter. Rather than using a ‘screen’ approach to block the passage of particles, the charged fibers act as ‘magnets’ to retain particles while still allowing air to pass through, making O2 Nose Filters both breathable and effective.

O2 Nose Filters provides inexpensive and effective security to protect people from harmful airborne diseases. While our nasal passageways try their best when it comes to filtering harmful particulate matter, they aren’t perfect. That’s why O2 Nose Filters are such an effective solution when it comes to improving our mental and physical health. Nose filters are a discreet, effective option to protect against airborne viruses and bacteria. The O2 Nose Filter uses 3M’s patented AEM™ electrostatic technology to capture allergens, viruses, and other particulates, making them a valuable tool for anyone who wants to drastically limit the pollutants and pollens they breathe in daily.


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