A human being sneezes 20,000 times in a lifetime. Sneezing can tell a lot about your health, the conditions of the environment around you and even unveil a few details about peculiarities of your temper.
The reflex appears during the irritation of the mucous membrane of the nose. This may occur due to various respiratory diseases and viral infections in the respiratory system - acute respiratory infections, flu, rhinitis, etc. For some people, sneezing appears an an allergic reaction to various substances. Inhalation of smoke or strong fragrances may activate the sneezing reflex as well. Some people sneeze as they experience a sudden change in temperature, for example, when a person exits a warm room into the cold, or when a person goes into sunlight. Modern science does not have an explanation to this phenomenon. Aristotle believed that the cause of such sneezing is the heat from the source of light.
When sneezing, we automatically close our eyes tight. This is a reflex of the protective system: the speed of exhaled air at sneezing can reach 50-100 meters per second and its pressure - 100 mm Hg. If we do not close our eyes when we sneeze, our eyes may fly out of their sockets. The brain controls this process. The sneezing spasm affects muscles of the eyes and the nasopharynx, and our eyelids close reflexively.
Sneezing is associated with a variety of superstitious beliefs. In Russia, when a person sneezes, others wish him or her health saying "Be healthy." Also, if a person sneezes after saying something, it means that the person was telling the truth. In Eastern England, there is a belief that if you sneeze early in the morning, then you may expect a surprise before the end of the week.
In Scotland, it was thought in the old days that a newborn baby would be vulnerable to dark forces before the first sneeze. Therefore, midwives would always carry a tobacco pouch to make the baby sneeze as soon as possible.
Also read: Functions of laughter: Anesthesia
In Russia, when people do not care a bit about something or someone, they say: "I'd rather sneeze at that!"
Sneezing can unveil some peculiarities about a person. A group of US scientists led by Patti Wood, professor of psychology, distinguish four types of sneezing.
Enthusiastic people sneeze loudly and wholeheartedly. Such people tend to have charisma and are capable of showing influence on others. They have many ideas, and they can inspire others with them.
Pedantic people try not to sneeze out loud and they usually use a handkerchief to cover their mouth and nose while sneezing. Such people try to avoid conflicts. They are quiet and patient individuals who try to take account of other people's interests.
Thinkers make an act of sneezing look like a performance. They sneeze with feeling and always have a nice handkerchief at hand. They are prudent by nature, tend to think their actions and words over and always have their own opinion on everything. They like reading intellectual books and enjoy solitude.
Singles sneeze loudly and quickly, without even thinking what other people may think about them. Such people are quick and decisive in their actions and demand this attitude from others.