Science Questions

Why do people have different sneezes?

Sun, 22nd Jun 2014

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Question

Nathan French asked:

Why do people sneeze differently? Is there a reason I cannot change my sneeze to be a quiet one? Are there any connections between personality/sex and your type of sneeze?

 

Thanks.

 

Nathan French

 

Answer

Georgia - A sneeze is a sudden expulsion of air from your lungs out through your Aerosols spread by sneezesnose and mouth, powered by vigorous muscle contractions in your face, throat and chest. Usually, in response to an irritation inside your nose.  

This is so, whatever is causing this irritation can be expelled from your nasal passages. Sneezes can also be caused by bright light which is called photic sneezing and affects around 1 in 5 of us.  

The reasons people have different sneezes is mainly down to personal anatomy. The size of your lungs and windpipe have an impact as well as the strength of the muscles around your chest and throat.  

It may also be a cultural thing. People in Britain tend to say ‘achoo’ when they sneeze while in Japan, people tend to say, ‘hakashun’ and deaf people tend not to insert any word into a sneeze at all.  

It might be possible to change how you sound with practice, but the volume of your sneeze can be changed by breathing out instead of in before you sneeze or by clenching your teeth. However, never block your nose to stop a sneeze as the internal pressure may rupture your eardrums or even trigger the involuntary release of urine.

Graihagh - Not an answer to be sniffed at, but what did your sneeze say about you? Dr. Alan Hirsch, sneeze and taste researcher or you could say ‘sneezologist’.

Alan - What we have been studying is how sneezing can indicate one’s personality type. We’ve done the test over 18,000 people and correlated different personality traits and behaviours. What we found is that if you have a loud projectile-like sneeze, it indicates that you tend to be more self-assured, aggressive individual, and more of a natural leader who won’t take no for an answer whereas those who have sneezes that are more muffled tend to be more shy, introverted, less self-assured.

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