The Power of a Sneeze

Most times, we associate a sneeze with something bad, like a cold or seasonal allergies. It could also be a simple reminder that you need to dust your bookshelf. But in reality, a sneeze is just another indication of how intelligent the human body truly is.

Think of how many things pass through and by your nose on a daily basis. On your walk to work in the morning, you may meander past a bakery, a flower shop, and a person selling nuts and hot dogs from a cart. Maybe you pass by a person smoking a cigarette on the corner or cross the street just as bus spews its exhaust—right in your direction. Many smells and irritants enter your nose on a daily basis. A sneeze is the body’s way of clearing such irritants or bacteria from the nose or pushing toxins out of the body.

According to Patti Wood, author of Success Signals: Understanding Body Language, “Sneezes travel at about 100 miles per hour.” Some are even faster. That’s a pretty powerful response. Sneezes are so powerful, in fact, that the heart rate slows down a bit, and your eyes close tightly. There’s no way to counteract those physical responses.

So what about the times when we are out in public and feel a sneeze coming on? Is it okay to hold it in? Remember, a sneeze is the body’s way of pushing out what it deems to be harmful. So holding in a sneeze has the opposite effect. And think of all the energy that goes into pushing out that sneeze. Holding it in forces the air through smaller holes than your nose and mouth—your eyes and ears. You can end up with broken blood vessels in your eyes and a ruptured eardrum, among other problems.

So instead of holding it in, grab a tissue and sneeze away. And then thank your body for doing it’s job of protecting you in the most powerful way it knows how!