Everybody sneezes. Animals do. So do humans. And while everybody sneezes there are several reasons that cause them. The technical term for sneezing is sternutation. I don't know about you, but that's a new word for me. Sneezing is an involuntary reaction and is a "convulsion expulsion of air from the lungs." Sneezing can be embarrassing when done in a crowded space, for instance, but sneezing is really beneficial. The main purpose of sneezing is to expel foreign particles or irritants from the nasal mucosa.
Sneezing generally occurs when irritants aren't caught by the nasal hairs and, instead, touch the nasal mucosa. The irritation may also occur from an infection or an allergic reaction as was the case with Quigley, Jr. "Motor neurons in the nasal passage send an impulse to the brain via the trigeminal nerve. The brain responds with a reflex stimulus that contracts muscles in the diaphragm, pharynx, larynx, mouth, and face. In the mouth, the soft palate and uvula depress while the back of the tongue rises. Air is convulsively expelled from the lungs, but because the passage to the mouth is only partially closed, a sneeze exits both the nose and mouth."
Here's something I found quite fascinating! We cannot sneeze while we sleep because the REM atonia, in which motor neurons stop relaying reflex signals to the brain. However, an irritant can cause you to wake up and then sneeze. And, contrary to popular belief, a sneeze does not cause your heart to temporarily stop or to skip a beat. The heart rhythm may slow slightly from vagus nerve stimulation as you take a deep breath. But the effect is minor.
Have you ever sneezed when you're in bright sunlight? if you have, you're not alone. It's known as photic sneezing and affects 18%-35% of all humans. And how about this for weird? It's inherited! If you experience it than one, or both of your parents did as well. it is called Autosomal Dominant Compelling Helio-Ophthalmic Outburst Syndrome or ACHOO...seriously. I didn't make that up! Scientists think the signal sent to the brain to shrink pupils in response to light may cross paths with the signal to sneeze. So it's merely a small wiring problem.
Other reasons some people sneeze: feeling a cold draft, plucking your eyebrows, or after finishing a large meal which is called snatiation. Like photic sneezing, it's an inherited trait.
Most humans can't keep their eyes open when they sneeze. Have you ever tried? Cranial nerves link both the eyes and the nose to the brain, so the stimulus to sneeze also triggers the eyelids to close. However, the reason for the response isn't to protect your eyes from popping out of your head! Sneezing is powerful, but there isn't any muscle behind the eye that could contract to eject your peepers." It is possible, yet quite difficult to sneeze and keep your eyes open and scientists tell us that we needn't fear having our eyeballs pop out if we do.
It's perfectly normal to sneeze more than once. It can simply take more sneezes to dislodge and reject those irritating particles. The number of times you sneeze varies from person to person, as well as the reason for the sneeze.
Animals can sneeze, too. You've probably heard your cat or dog sneeze."Some non-mammalian vertebrates sneeze, such as iguanas and chickens. Sneezing serves the same purpose as in humans, plus it may be used for communication. For example, African wild dogs sneeze to vote on whether or not the pack should hunt."
Ever wonder what happens when you hold in your sneeze? While it won't cause your eyeballs to pop out, you can actually do yourself some harm. Holding your nose and mouth shut to stifle a sneeze can give you vertigo, rupture your eardrums, and even lead to loss of hearing, says Dr. Allison Woodall, an audiologist at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.
Young Quigley learned a great deal about sneezing. But the most important thing he learned was to keep his nose out of the weeds. I hope you, dear reader, learned something new and fun today, too. This is Teacher Appreciation Week and I hope you'll join me tomorrow when we take a look at some of the reason why teachers are so important. Until then, I wish you a day without sneezing and filled with peace.