Why Do You Sneeze?


“Sneeze vector” by 729:512 is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0


By: Alexander Nguyen, Reporter

Sneezing or Sternutation is your body’s reflexive way to get something bothersome out of your nose. Any foreign particles similar to perfume, dust, smoke, or even your cat’s hair can trigger a sneeze. When any unwanted particles enter the sensitive part of your nose, a signal is received to your thalamus, located in the brain’s central part: the thalamus processes and coordinates sensory signals like touch. Once the signal is sent to the thalamus, the thalamus sends signals to all parts of your brain, which control muscles that have to work together to create sternutation or sneezing. Sneezing involves a complex procedure from your brain.

After the message to sneeze is sent to your brain, within less than a second, your eyes will be closed shut, your tongue will be pushing against the roof of your mouth, and along with your throat muscles, vocal cords, chest muscles, belly muscles, and your diaphragm will all work together to create a sneeze. Once sneezing, you will send those pesky particles soaring out of your nose along with air, water, and mucus at nearly 100mph.

Other factors also trigger a sneeze, like catching a cold or when a virus is hanging out in your nose. Some people sneeze due to allergies or getting exposed to certain things like animal dander or pollen.