The Sneeze

My recent ruminations about yawning made me think of another universal uncontrolled human action, the sneeze. According to Wikipedia, a sneeze (also known as sternutation) is a semi-autonomous, convulsive expulsion of air from the lungs through the nose and mouth, usually caused by foreign particles irritating the nasal mucosa. In company, the sneeze, like the yawn, is generally considered impolite. And it’s hard, sometimes impossible, to avoid.

What causes sneezing is fairly clear. It is due to what I call nasal tickling—the irritating presence of alien material in the nose, usually nasal mucous (snot). It can also be caused by sudden exposure to bright light, a sudden fall in temperature, breeze of cold air, a particularly full stomach, exposure to allergens, or viral infection.

I personally enjoy sneezing. For reasons I can’t explain, it feels good to me to expel air violently though my nose. While I can prevent myself from sneezing or stop sneezing after the first one, I generally do all I can to prolong a sneezing fit. Usually, the most I can manage is four or occasionally five.

Sorry ’bout that. It’s how I am.

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