Sneezes and Sneezing

Unless some breakthrough has occurred recently in Medical science, no one probably yet knows why we sneeze.

I have noticed something that may or may not be important. From personal experience, I notice that there is usually a tickling sensation INSIDE MY NASAL PASSAGES, which seems to be the initiation of a sneeze. But then I notice that I open my mouth to actually sneeze!

This means that the blast of air that my body creates in a sneeze pass through my mouth, and I do not think that ANY of it goes through my nose and nasal passages. It seems to me that my body even squeezes the nasal passages, which ensures that ALL the air will go through my mouth.

I am noting the logic that a tickling IN MY NASAL PASSAGES initiates the sneeze, suggesting there is some dust or insect or other obstacle that got into those passageways, but then we do not actually drive any air through to try to blow the obstruction out.

I note that EVERY dog I have ever been around sneezes in a very different way than we do. The dog does NOT open the mouth! That means that all of the air blast is driven through the nasal passages, which therefore WOULD drive any obstacle out through the nose. In fact, a spray of saliva-like fluid usually comes out the nostrils. When I have seen videos of other kinds of animals, their sneezes seem to generally resemble how dogs sneeze, with mouth closed.

I am not sure what this means. Have we humans somehow forgotten how to properly sneeze? I wonder if civilization and groupings of people have conditioned us to make sure not to spray anything. We usually put a hand over the MOUTH when we sneeze. Did it happen in ancient antiquity that some people had sneezed through their noses and made a social blunder in the process?

More importantly, would it be any medical advantage for us to re-learn how to sneeze correctly?

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This presentation was first placed on the Internet in April 2012.

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C Johnson, Theoretical Physicist, Physics Degree from Univ of Chicago