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Sneezing is a universally-recognized physical reaction in people, but what people don’t often know is what sneezing means, or what it does to the body. In fact, myths and superstitions have swirled around sneezing for almost as long as civilization has existed. Today, we’d like to go through just a few of the many, many odd beliefs about sneezing.

What is a sneeze?

First, let’s talk about what a sneeze is. A sneeze is your body’s reaction to irritants in your nasal mucous membrane. When your membrane is irritated, your body expels them through a forceful, explosive expulsion of air through the nose and mouth.

If you sneeze with your eyes open, your eyes will not pop out

Blood pressure behind the eyes does increase slightly when you sneeze, but it’s not enough to force your eyes out of your head. The fact that you close your eyes at all when you sneeze is purely reflexive.

Your heart will not stop when you sneeze

Your chest does contract when you sneeze, which can constrict your blood flow, but it’s not nearly enough to stop your heart.

Is someone talking behind your back?

In east Asian countries, there’s a superstition that if you sneeze, someone is talking about you. Moreover, the number of times you sneeze is a sign as to what they’re talking about. For example, one sneeze means something good has been said, two means something bad has been said, three is a sign that someone is in love with them, and four is a sign that tragedy will befall their family.

Trouble with the in-laws

In Polish culture, a sneeze is more than just a sign that someone is talking about you: it means your mother-in-law is talking badly about you. If they aren’t married, it means that when they are, their relationship with their mother-in-law will be a poor one.

Good luck? Bad luck?

Many cultures think sneezing sometime between noon and midnight is a sign of good luck, while others think it’s a bad sign. In other cases, some people believe if you sneeze while getting dressed, something bad will happen that day. Still others think that if you turn your head to the right when you sneeze you’ll have good luck, while turning your heard to the left will bring bad luck.

God bless you

Sneezing is unusual in that there is almost a universal need to respond when someone does so. But why do people say “God bless you” (or a variation thereof) when you sneeze? Well, there a few possible origins. One is that Pope Gregory the Great started doing so during the Plague of Justinian, in the hopes that people wouldn’t die after sneezing. There is also the school of thought that people might expel their souls from their body when they sneezed, and this was a way of keeping the devil from taking it. And then there are those who thought the heart would stop when you sneezed and saying “God bless you” would keep you from dying.

Modern medicine

While sneezing might not be a sign of luck or being talked about, it could be a sign of a cold, allergy, or other condition one of CEENTA’s ENT doctors would be happy to treat. If you need an appointment, don’t hesitate to make one today.

This blog is for informational purposes only. For specific medical questions, please consult your doctor. If you need an appointment with an ENT doctor in one of our North or South Carolina locations, call 704-295-3000. You can also schedule an appointment online or through myCEENTAchart.

 





Comments

February 16, 2021

Lately every time I try to eat, regardless what kind of food, I sneeze like 10-15 times over a minute and a half. Why???
- His Girl

February 17, 2021

Good morning. We can't diagnose individual patients without seeing them, so we recommend you make an appointment with your doctor. If you live in the Charlotte region and would like an appointment with a CEENTA doctor, please visit www.ceenta.com/appointments. Thank you.
Reply From: CEENTA

February 05, 2021

I sneezed twice and then three times so... someone is talking had about me but also someone is in love with me ?(is that right ) :)
- A human being

January 19, 2021

My Nana and me always say after we sneeze four times good luck is coming your way
- Annastashia

January 06, 2021

I sneezed 2 times then 15 mintues later another 2 times. It was wirhin half an hour this morning What does that mean?
- Cam from Australia

January 06, 2021

Good morning. There could be one of a number of a causes, but if you are concerned about your health, we recommend you make an appointment with a local physician, as we are unable to diagnose patients' individual cases without seeing them. Thank you.
Reply From: CEENTA

January 04, 2021

1 is a wish, 2 is a kiss, 3 is a letter and 4 is something better :)
- Margaret

December 07, 2020

i always sneeze 2 or 3 times... i guess I'm gossiped about a lot...
- a human being

December 07, 2020

i sneezed 3 times once in school and then someone came up to me and said a guy behind me had a crush on me... how interesting is that?
- a human being

December 02, 2020

if you sneeze when you or someone is telling a story, that means the story or whats being said is true
- Santa Castrataro

November 28, 2020

If you sneeze it means someone is praying for you.
- Marilyn

November 17, 2020

I never knew that cuz I sneeze 3 times everyday I wonder who loves me
- Alisha

November 01, 2020

When i sneeze, i used to sneeze contineously more than 8 to10 time repeatedly... Any sign..
- Chandra Timung from Karbi Anglong Assam

October 19, 2020

someone is talking to me that i sneezed 3 times and 2 times,i dont know why it makes me that sneeze many times but im sure they are talking about me so its a mystery to guess by just sneezing and who they are
- G.J

October 15, 2020

This is a sign, now I know why I always sneeze twice rather than once.
- Anonymous

September 23, 2020

I sneezed well over 13 times yesterday evening .. Wondering what that could possibly mean.?
- Haiiley

September 23, 2020

Good afternoon. If you have any concerns about your health and you live in the Charlotte, NC, region, please schedule an appointment at CEENTA by calling 704-295-3000. Thank you.
Reply From: CEENTA

September 20, 2020

Thank you very much for this. I'm glad you explained this. Otherwise, with these world myths, superstitious thoughts one could link the sneezing to the Life and death case, where sometime back I also linked it too many.
- RuAnu

September 01, 2020

Hmmm that's interesting i didn't know a lot of this.
- Anonymous Wolf

August 24, 2020

I sneezed 3 times now i know why i guess
- WOw

August 22, 2020

My mother use to say “It’s true” when there’s a conversation going on among the group and if someone sneezes or knocks something over she would say “it’s true.”
- Norm

August 19, 2020

This is weird. I guess someone talks about me alot but it's ok because they are talking good about me.
- Amy

June 22, 2020

Interesting...
- Wishes to remain anonymous (that how you spell it?)

May 07, 2020

This is wierd. I guess someone talks about me a lot
- Lulu

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