Science Questions

When we sneeze, why does it come in twos and threes?

Sun, 5th Jul 2009

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Tim Shaw asked:

When we sneeze, why does it come in twos and threes?


Ben -   I think itís just the conditions that created the sneeze donít go away, so you sneeze again.  Iím not sure though.  If anyone else has any ideas, please get in touch.

Chris -   Iím just trying to think whether, I mean, there was someone I know who used to have some congenital problem that used to make him sneeze excessively.  I think that there can be a sort of miswiring effect in the nervous system and also certain brain diseases and maybe in brain tumors can cause compulsive unrepetitive sneezing.

Ben -   And we know that we have the photic sneeze response as well so perhaps thereís something going on there whereby if youíre exposed to bright light, youíll sneeze but then youíre still exposed to bright light so thereís no reason why you wouldnít sneeze again.

Chris -   Possibly.  Thatís also genetic and we know that about one person in five has that.  This is when youíre in a dark room, you go into the bright lights of the streets and suddenly, wow you feel the sneezing fit come on.  No one actually knows exactly why it happens so if you have an answer, let us know. 


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Tim Shaw asked the Naked Scientists: Whenever I sneeze, I invariably sneeze twice in quick succession. I've noticed other people have a sneeze number too: once, twice, or even three times. Is there a reason for this? Cheers, Tim Zurich, Switzerland What do you think? Tim Shaw , Thu, 11th Jun 2009

Just guessing here, but could it be inherited? Chemistry4me, Fri, 12th Jun 2009

Grrrrrr !!

I sneeze just the once.....but wifey  ?...when she starts I go for a really rather peeves me orf !!...she sneezes 7 or 8 times !! sympathetic as I am to her sneezing woe, I don't see any reason why she should not accommodate us by going into the cupboard under the stairs during her nasal insufflations ! neilep, Fri, 12th Jun 2009

it might just be. A sneeze is an attempt to get rid of an irritant (photic sneezing aside) so a smaller nasal cavity might need more sneezes to get rid of the same irritant as a larger one (or vice versa) JnA, Fri, 12th Jun 2009

Allergy or atopy tends to run in families and this is a common reason to sneeze, as in allergic rhinitis (hayfever). Therefore sneezing fits could be genetic on those grounds.

Chris chris, Sat, 13th Jun 2009

So its true! Noses run in my family. My Mrs rounds off a few coughs with a sneeze or two, but then she's connected up all wrong anyway. Don_1, Sat, 13th Jun 2009

This has always bothered me. I am triple sneezer and everyone always looks at me like I am possessed or something. orlandosingles, Tue, 7th Jul 2009

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