Do you feel the urge to sneeze sometimes, but realize that you can’t? Or, are you wondering how to make yourself sneeze on purpose? If so, then don’t miss this WellnessKeen article. It gives you various tricks to make yourself sneeze, such as by direct stimulation, using stimulating substances, besides other ways.
Did You Know?
The Guinness World Record for the longest sneezing fit ever recorded is held by Donna Griffiths of the UK, who sneezed nonstop for 977 days.
Sneezing is a technique by which any foreign particle is removed from the respiratory passage. When such a particle enters the nose, it makes contact with the mucous membrane. This irritates the mucous membrane, and specific nerve impulses are sent to the brain, which then respond by triggering a sneeze reflex. In this act of sneezing, a large volume of air is forcibly expelled from the lungs, with the intention of expelling the foreign particle which entered the respiratory system. It is a defense mechanism which prevents the entry of pathogenic microbes in the body.
The act of sneezing has varied cultural implications. It is commonly associated with a sick person who has a stuffy nose, or someone with an allergy. It may even be considered rude, disgusting, or inauspicious in some situations. In addition to this, sneezing is proven to spread disease-causing microbes, which are trapped in the mucus droplets expelled in the act. Despite its reputation, sneezing is actually beneficial for the body, and is also acceptable in a social setting, if certain etiquette is followed, such as covering the nose, which also helps prevent the spread of germs.
Though it is a natural reaction, one can be artificially induced to sneeze by a specific kind of stimulation too. Some techniques to trigger sneezing focus on activating the nerves that cause sneezing, while others work by mimicking the effect of foreign particles that enter the nose. The various tricks to make yourself sneeze on purpose are given below.
Using a Tissue
Take a tissue and roll one of its corners into a cone. Gently insert this into your nose and wiggle it around to stimulate the sneeze reflex in the brain by causing a tickling sensation. It may take some time, and you can change the tissue if it becomes soft due to the moisture. This method will almost surely trigger a sneeze, sometimes, repeatedly. To make this more effective, simultaneously make a humming sound or vibrate your upper lip by blowing air through your mouth.
Using Hard Objects
You can also take a Q-tip, toothpick, pencil, hairpin, or any other object, which is neither too hard nor too soft, and stimulate your nasal lining with it. Again, this method works by targeting the nerves to the brain which bring on a sneeze. However, be very cautious when following this method, as it can injure delicate nasal tissue if not done carefully. Such items can also transfer germs, as the nasal passage leads to the interior of the body.
It can be puzzling to understand the relation between the eyebrows and sneezing, but the fact is, the trigeminal nerve, which is responsible for sneezing, has a branch running till the tip of the nose. Tweezing the eyebrows will irritate the nose, by stimulating this nerve. Or instead, you can rub the edges of the eyebrows, rather than plucking hair, to cause the same effect.
Plucking Nose Hair
Plucking a few nose hair can also trigger a sneeze, by stimulating the tri-geminal nerve. Using a tweezer, pluck a couple of nose hair, one at a time, as pulling several together might hurt. Pull each hair out with a forceful jerk. Again, be careful, since this involves inserting a hard object into your nose, and the method may take some time.
Mouth Roof Stimulation
Licking the roof of the mouth can stimulate the trigeminal nerve, and make one sneeze. To do this, just touch the tip of your tongue to the roof of the mouth, and take it all the way back, to create a tickling sensation. You can also stimulate the soft tissue at the rear of the roof.
Massage the Nose Bridge
Some people can bring about a sneeze by simply massaging the bridge of their nose between the thumb and index finger, or by using a back massager. This technique may or may not work for everyone, but it is remarkably convenient. It is said to stimulate a certain ‘tickle spot’ on the nose which targets the tri-geminal nerve.
Eating a bar of chocolate is said to cause sneezing, especially at the beginning. The more the cocoa content in the chocolate, the better. This method works only on a handful of people, and it’s believed that a few cocoa particles which accidentally enter the nose might be responsible for the sneezing effect.
Chewing a strong peppermint-based gum is a popular way to bring forth the sneeze reflex, though this has a lot to do with the strong peppermint flavor and odor, rather than the act of chewing in itself. Some people even report getting a sneeze each time they pop a peppermint gum. One can also try candies and mints like Altoids for a good sneeze.
Some people experience a fit of sneezing on drinking carbonated soft drinks, soda, and lemonade, sometimes simply by sniffing the drink. Others have reported similar experiences after the intake of alcohol-based cough syrups.
Take some warm water in a cup and dip the tip of your nose in it. Do not inhale completely. Then, stand or sit upright, and throw your head back, to cause a sneeze. Water droplets in the nostrils are regarded by the brain as a foreign body that must be removed, hence, it responds by sneezing.
Holding an open container of a strong spice near your nose, or sniffing a folded paper containing the spice for 10 – 15 seconds in a closed room can easily make you sneeze. You can use cumin powder, coriander, pepper, or ginger for this purpose. It is important not to inhale large particles of the spice, especially pepper, as this can cause a burning sensation in your nose, rather than make you sneeze.
The strategy should be to first try this method with pepper, and then move on to ginger if you don’t get any results. You can also buy a pack of sneezing powder from a gift store, though mostly, this is nothing but ordinary pepper mixed with other spices.
Sniffing a strong perfume or even a peppermint-flavored toothpaste can cause sneezing. Take a perfume bottle, spray it away from yourself, and immediately hold the nozzle up to your nose, to make this method work. Do not make actual contact with the nozzle, to keep perfume droplets from entering it. This method reportedly works by a tickle caused due to ‘overloading’ of the senses.
Breathe Cold Air
Inhaling cold air after spending time at a warm place can cause some people to sneeze. This can be done by opening a door or window when the weather outside is cold, or by taking a bath and then going outside. If it’s warm outside, you can even try inhaling cold air from the freezer!
Look at the Sun
Looking directly at the sun or at some other source of bright light when your eyes are accustomed to darkness can cause sneezing. This phenomenon, called the ‘photic sneeze reflex’, occurs among 18 – 35% of the entire population, due to a hereditary gene. Looking at bright light stimulates the optic nerves of the eyes which run close to the tri-geminal nerve that causes sneezing.
An allergy to the sun is also thought to be a contributing factor. Closing one’s eyes for a while to make the eyes accustomed to darkness before looking at the sun or a lamp may be more effective. However, make sure you blink normally and avoid long exposure to light, which can be harmful. This is a good method if you feel you need to sneeze, but can’t.
Touch a Cold Wall
Touching a cold wall or a metal surface is said to cause sneezing almost immediately in some people. This phenomenon is rare, and whether it really works or is just a myth remains unknown, though it is not scientifically proven.
Faking a sneeze may help you look ill, and can also bring on a real sneeze, according to some reports. This happens if the fake sneezing is carried on long enough to stimulate the sneeze reflexes in the brain and cause a real sneezing fit. It fools the brain, because a fake sneeze involves the same muscles as an actual one.
Tilt the Head Backwards
If all the above methods fail, you can at least get the most out of a weak sneeze. If the reflex is not strong enough, tilting your head back will cause a full sneeze by straightening your airway.
Everyone has a different level of sensitivity, so it is natural that some methods which work instantly for some may not be as effective for others. While it is safe and even beneficial to sneeze, restricting a sneeze, on the other hand, may damage the eyes, ears, brain, cause fractures, and may even result in death.