Why Do We Sneeze/Why Does it Feel Good?

We all know the feeling when a sneeze is coming on. But do we know what triggers that? What is actually happening in our body, specifically sinuses, before and during a sneeze? Not only that, but what about after? The countless tricks people have these days to prevent a sneeze seems ridiculous to me. I, personally, love sneezing as weird as that may sound. After sneezing endlessly with a cold for nearly a week it got me wondering why we sneeze and the reason we have this natural euphoria every time.


Our sinuses have a type of "defense" system, so to speak, that is ready to sneeze at a moment's notice. So when we breathe in a foreign particle, the hairs that line our nostrils reject it. In doing so, the action of sneezing attempts to keep us as healthy as possible. This feeling of needing to sneeze is received by our brains from the nerve endings in mucus membranes. Once we are finally prepared to sneeze our eyes close as well as other muscle groups. These muscles shut down in efforts to actually prevent the act of propelling ourselves across the room from the intensity of the sneeze. Dr. James describes sneezing as "nature's broom". Labeling it nature's broom puts it into perspective. It's pretty cool to think that our body naturally cleanses itself in such a weird manner.

We commonly associate sneezing with dust and allergies but there are in fact other explanations for it. Although there is no understood link between it, some people suffer from a disorder known as "snatiation". This is where a person will suffer a succession of sneezes directly after eating a meal. Similar to the more commonly disorder where a person will sneeze when exposed to bright light, doctors have yet to understand why these two occur.

But why does a common sneeze feel so euphoric? The combination of pressure relief and chemical reactions/adrenaline rush can explain that. First off, the entire act of a sneeze begins with tension building in the sinuses only to relieve all of that pressure in a matter of milliseconds once the sneeze is complete. It would be like having congestion in your sinuses to the point where you can't breathe via nasal passages (like a cold) and within milliseconds that congestion disappears. All the pressure being felt in your sinuses is gone and the sense of relief overwhelms your body. Secondly, the sensation after sneezing is sometimes compared to that of a runner's high. In the most basic explanation, endorphins are the chemicals that make us feel good. fThese endorphins are released instantly as we sneeze. The release of endorphins explains the euphoria felt after a sneeze. Some people go so far as to compare to a fraction of an orgasm. So maybe the euphoria of sneezing isn't just me. Apparently, it's naturally felt amongst everyone.

Source 1- http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2012/08/120814-why-do-we-sneeze-health-science-sinusitis/

Source 2- http://scienceline.org/2008/01/ask-hadhazy-sneeze/

Source 3- http://thehairpin.com/2012/05/i-have-that-snatiation

Source 4- http://minnesota.cbslocal.com/2012/04/17/good-question-why-does-sneezing-feel-so-good/

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