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Why Do We Sneeze? Surprising and Weird Things That Make You Go Achoo!

Team StoryWeavers|January 06, 2022, 15:51 IST|

why do we sneeze

Whether it’s the cold breeze, a workout or eating dark chocolate, you can have it coming. When your nose wrinkles up, you can feel your eyes watering and then it just happens — ah choo! You sneeze! Well, all the three things above can trigger sneezing fits. But do you know why we sneeze in the first place? Or what are the things that can make you sneeze? Worry not, let’s begin with what a sneeze is, first.

Sneezing, put simply, is an involuntary release of air that helps the human body to get rid of irritants in their nose and throat, like allergens, dirt, and dust. So, what happens when we sneeze?

When something does enter our nose, like germs, dust or pollen, a message is sent to a part of our brain called the sneeze centre. The “sneeze centre”’ then sends signals to the parts of our body that need to work together to help us sneeze. Our chest muscles, diaphragm, abdominals, vocal cords and the muscles in the back of our throat all work together to help expel the irritant out of our bodies.
However, allergens, dirt, dust and other irritants are not the only things that make you sneeze. You would be surprised to know what other strange things can trigger sneezing fits! Let’s look at some of the interesting ones.

Looking at the sun or brighter things

If you have ever looked at the sun and sneezed, you are part of the 10 to 35 percent of the population who experiences something called photic sneeze reflex. This condition is also appropriately referred to as the ACHOO Syndrome – Autosomal Dominant Compelling Helio-Ophthalmic Outburst Syndrome. Photic sneeze reflex typically is inherent and happens when the sun or some other bright light overstimulates the optic nerve.

Being excited or feeling other strong emotions

Whether it’s fear, frustration, sadness, or excitement, experiencing strong emotions is another weird reason some people also sneeze. Being fearful can often cause the nasal membranes to shrink, while other intense emotions can cause the nasal membranes to swell. Both the shrinking and swelling of the membranes can thus result in sneezing.

why do we sneeze

Iguanas sneeze more often and more productively than any other animal, according to research. Sneezing is the process through which they get rid of certain salts from their bodies that are a regular byproduct of their digestive process.

Dark chocolate can make you sneeze

Well, this is nearly sad. But as experts say, a taste of dark chocolate can activate the same photic sneeze reflex as the sun. This condition is most likely hereditary and affects about 18 to 35 percent of the population.

Don’t pluck ’em!

Plucking your eyebrows might lead to sneezing. Plucking may set off a nerve in your face that supplies your nasal passages. As a result, you sneeze.

Work it, but not too much

Exercise could make you sneeze. Surprised? Well, experts state that you hyperventilate when you are over-exerted, and as a result, your nose and mouth start to dry up. Hence, your nose reacts by starting to drip, thus triggering a sneeze.

why do we sneeze

Can you tell us more things that make you sneeze? Please leave your comments below. 

Enjoyed reading this? Then check out the Learning Tree blog for more:

Why Do We See Seven Colours In A Rainbow?

When Did Life Begin In The Universe?

About the Author


Writing has always been Shreesha’s passion, be it for imparting knowledge or expressing opinions. In her former role as a journalist, she contributed to enriching society with knowledge. Now, at BYJU’S, she has moved on to something more exciting – creating tailor-made content for students. When she is not writing, you would find her looking for new ways to engage her child.

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