Why Does Sneezing Feel Good?

Sep 29, 2021

Why Does Sneezing Feel Good?

5 minute read

Having a sneeze attack every morning because seasonal allergies are unleashing their wrath is usually not the best way to start the day. But you have to admit, sometimes releasing all of that gunk in your nose feels pretty satisfying.

But why is it that something as strange and frustrating as sneezing actually feels pretty good? It turns out there are more reasons than you might think.

What Is a Sneeze?

Sneezing doesn’t just happen for no reason. In fact, it’s a defense mechanism deployed by your body to help keep foreign objects from getting inside of your body. When an irritant, such as pollen, pet dander, viruses, or smoke, irritates the mucous membrane in your nasal passages, your body expels air to try to get them out.

Oddly enough, sneezing can also be caused by sensitivity to bright lights. If you’ve ever noticed that a sunny day causes you to sneeze, it might not be seasonal allergies after all. You might just be a “photic,” or someone who sneezes when exposed to bright light.

Why Does Sneezing Feel Amazing?

Letting out a good sneeze can feel as satisfying as ripping the stickers off a new electronic device or cutting into a freshly baked cake. But when you think about it, sneezing is sort of gross. So why in the world does it feel so good?

When you sneeze, you release feel-good chemicals known as “endorphins.” Endorphins are released by the body to help relieve pain, reduce stress, and make you feel good all-around. This is probably the most likely reason why sneezing feels so great.

Sneezing causes some muscle tension in your chest which leads to excess pressure. Sneezing helps to release that pressure and provides a sense of well-being, similar to the feeling you’d get after an intense workout.

However, it might also feel super good because it can help alleviate that annoying “prickly” feeling that you get in your nose when you feel a sneeze coming on. Feelings that immediate relief can help make you feel better instantly, which undoubtedly makes you feel amazing.

There may also be some psychological factors at work too. When you sneeze, your body releases some harmful irritants back into the outside world. Since you know that your nose is doing its job, you might feel a little bit of comfort in the fact that your body is working to keep you safe.

It’s Not Always Good, Though

A sneeze every now and then has the power to feel pretty great. But when you start to sneeze more than three times in a row, it can get pretty infuriating.

Sneezes often come in twos and threes because it often takes a couple of tries for your nose to actually get all of the foreign particles out of there. This is good when it’s warranted, like colds and viruses, but when harmless pollen and ragweed are giving you sneeze attacks, it’s not too fun.

Be sure to have some high-quality antihistamines and nasal sprays you to help bring relief to “sneezures” at any time. This is one of the best ways to prevent those sneeze attacks that never seem to end.

Other Sneeze Beliefs

Speaking of sneezes feeling good, many people believe that sneezing is equal to one-seventh of an orgasm. While we don’t have a way to check this for sure, we won’t deny that sneezing does feel pretty good.

But that’s not the only common sneeze belief that the general population tends to believe. Let’s debunk some of the most famous myths surrounding this natural body response.

Your Heart Stops Beating When You Sneeze

False. If this were true, life expectancy would be a lot shorter than it is now. When you inhale before a sneeze, the pressure in your chest increases and then decreases once it’s released. This pressure can change your heart rate, but it doesn’t actually make it stop.

With that said, it’s still polite to say “bless you” when you hear someone clear out their sinuses.

You Can’t Keep Your Eyes Open When You Sneeze

Some people may be able to keep their eyes open during a sneeze, but for the majority of people, blinking is a natural reflex that occurs as a byproduct. This all has to do with your nervous system.

When your brain sends a message to your nose that says you need to sneeze, it causes involuntary stimulation of the muscles in your face. This causes your eyes to blink for the brief sneezing period.

While we’re here, we’ll also debunk the myth that sneezing with your eyes open will not make your eyes pop out. Blood pressure behind your eyes may increase briefly, but it’s not nearly enough force to cause any damage.

Clearing the Air

Sneezing every now and then feels like a little gift, for some reason. It’s mainly because sneezing releases endorphins, or feel-good chemicals, while simultaneously releasing pressure in the chest.

Some people even believe that it feels similar to an orgasm, though we think that’s a bit of a myth, just like believing that your heart stops during a sneeze or that it’s impossible to keep your eyes open during the process.

Of course, sneezing over and over again doesn’t feel too good. If allergic reactions are making your nose feel pretty gross, click here to get a free allergy consultation and take your first step towards relief.

Reviewed by Dr. Payel Gupta

Sources:

Why does sneezing feel so good? | Science Focus

Endorphins | GoodTherapy

True or False: Your Heart Stops Beating When You Sneeze (and Other Common Beliefs About Sneezing) | Winchester Hospital

Why Do I Close My Eyes When I Sneeze? | Children's Museum


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