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11 Surprising Sneezing Facts

How fast does a sneeze travel? Can sex and sunshine make you sneeze? Get the strange sneezing facts.

11 Surprising Sneezing Facts continued...

9. Sex can be a sneezing trigger. Have sex, must sneeze? It happens more often than you might think. Researchers believe that the stimulation of the parasympathetic nervous system fires off signals in some people to not only enjoy the act of sex, but to sneeze when it's over.

10. The sneeziest animal: the iguana. Iguanas sneeze more often and more productively than any other animal, according to Wood's research. Sneezing is how they rid their bodies of certain salts that are the normal byproduct of their digestive process, Woods says.

11. How do you stop a sneeze? While it's not foolproof, "Try breathing through your mouth and pinching the end of your nose," Kao says.

Sneezing Superstition

Strange sneezing facts aside, there are some beliefs about sneezing that just aren't true.

For instance, it's not true that your heart stops when you sneeze. When your chest contracts because of a sneeze, your blood flow is momentarily constricted as well. As a result, the rhythm of your heart may change, but it definitely doesn't stop.

And your eyeballs cannot pop out of your head when you sneeze. Most people naturally close their eyes when they sneeze, but if they are able to keep them open, their eyes stay firmly planted in their heads where they belong. "While a person's blood pressure behind the eyes may increase slightly when he sneezes, it's not enough force to dislodge the eyeballs from the head," Kao says.

Wood has heard of other sneezing folklore, including the notion that if you sneeze, company is coming over, and if your cat sneezes, it's going to rain.

As for the blessing many people say after someone sneezes, Wood explains that the Greek word for sneeze is "pneuma," which means "soul or spirit."

"A post-sneeze blessing stems from the ancient belief that sneezing is a near-death experience, and that a blessing will prevent your soul or sneeze from escaping your body and will deter the devil from entering in," Wood says.

 

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Reviewed on January 11, 2010

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