Ah, springtime. In many areas, it's the time of year where the weather is as nice as it's going to get. You have sunny days that aren't too hot, animals and insects are out and about and plants and flowers are in full bloom. It's also allergy season, and that means there are going to be quite a few sneezes echoing through office buildings and interrupting the silence in homes everywhere.
Sneezing is a fact of life, be it from an allergic reaction, the common cold or any of a number of other factors that can contribute to a sneeze. While everyone has sneezed, relatively few people know the science behind the sneeze. There's quite a bit going on behind the scenes every single time you sneeze.
What Happens When You Sneeze?
Sneezing is one of the body's most prominent natural defense mechanisms. Sneezes happen when the cells that line the nose, known as the respiratory epithelium, become irritated or sense a foreign object has become lodged in the tiny hairs known as cilia that line the nose. The cells send a message to the trigeminal cranial nerve, which in turns sends a message to the brain and a sneeze or series of sneezes is initiated.
A lot happens in the body during a sneeze. Your abdominal and chest muscles tighten quickly and compress your lungs, pushing air up and out of your throat. As the air passes through your throat, it also contracts and launches the air through your nose at speeds that can reach a hundred miles per hour. Your tongue presses against the roof of your mouth in order to force most of the air out of your nose and your eyes involuntarily close.