How often do we sneeze in a day? Well, to put it simply, we all sneeze at least once a day. Our body curls a little, we close our eyes, and we release a certain amount of air and a little saliva from our mouth and nose. But why do we sneeze? We sneeze when our nose feels irritated because of a foreign substance. Our body’s way of throwing any pollen or dust out of it. But does your heart stop when you sneeze? Let us find out here!
We have all had someone murmur ‘God Bless’ when we sneeze. It is because people believe that our heart stops when we sneeze. Do you know why? Our ancestors believed that our heart stops when we sneeze for a second, making way for all the evil spirits to enter the body. Hence, it makes it extremely important to bless the person sneezing.
But does your heart stop when you sneeze? When we sneeze, the idea of the heart-stopping and everything else is completely baseless and just a myth. However, our heart goes through a series of little changes that are nothing short of wonderful and weird.
In this article, we have discussed the answers to various questions like when you sneeze, does your heart stop, what are the reasons that cause a sneeze and how to avoid sneezing, amongst others. Read on to know more.
Table of Contents
Does your heart stop when you sneeze
Now that we know the answer to whether your heart stops when you sneeze let us know what happens to your body when you sneeze.
Although the logic of heart-stopping when one sneezes is completely a myth going on from generation to generation, the truth is the heart might be off track for a second before going back to its previous rhythm.
Here is a series of things that perfectly answers the question does your heart stop when you sneeze.
You inhale before you sneeze deeply
You would know that a person is about to sneeze just by looking at them because they inhale deeply just right before. Due to this, extra pressure is built in the chest. Along with that, the blood flow to the heart becomes less, the blood pressure drops, and thus the BPM (beats per minute) raises.
Your throat gets squeezed
It is very common for us to feel our throat getting closed or blocked just before we are about to sneeze. This is the body’s way of maintaining the intrathoracic pressure that it builds so it can throw the dirt out of the body as a sneeze.
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You exhale suddenly
After a sneeze has been released, your body would quickly want to hop back to normal. Your body thus exhales speedily and suddenly to let go of all the pressure that has been built in the abdomen. Your body thus again goes through a short series of changes. The blood flow to the heart increases, the blood pressure increases, thus decreasing the BPM (beats per minute).
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At this time, the heartbeat pauses for a very little while before regaining its normal rate. But does your heart stop when you sneeze? It surely does not. When you sneeze, do you die? You surely do not.
What causes a sneeze?
One of the most important jobs performed by the nose is to filter the air you breathe, ensuring that it is bacteria and dirt-free. Sometimes, however, the mucous membranes present in the throat, lungs, and nose get irritated by debris or dirt entering your nose. This is when your body tries to remove the foreign substances, causing you to sneeze.
Mostly the causes of sneezing are very harmless. To mention, a few of the things that trigger a sneeze are:
- Nasal irritants such as mold, pollen, spices, or dust
- Withdrawal of any drug
- Inhaling corticosteroids
Some of the other causes of sneezing that must be catered to are:
One of the most common things to cause a sneeze is a common cold. It is one of the main symptoms of the same. The common cold generally occurs when you get any viral infection in your respiratory tract. However, this is not something to be worried about. This cold goes away when you rest or take some medications in most cases.
Another reason that can cause you to sneeze is if you got influenza, commonly referred to as the flu. Influenza is generally a viral infection that causes respiratory illness. Some of the other flu symptoms apart from just sneezing are fatigue and body ache. If you have caught the flu and have trouble breathing or are sneezing continuously, the best advice is to consult a doctor and keep under-prescribed medications only.
Allergies are another common cause that results in you sneezing. These are caused when your body tries to throw out any foreign substances, specifically any bacteria that have the potential of causing disease. However, allergies do not cause any serious threat to the human body. It is better to stay under a professional doctor to keep it under check and not let it grow.
If you have come in contact with an allergen (substances that can cause an allergic reaction in a person), there are high chances of sneezing, getting itching, and coughing. Although this does not pose any serious threat to any person, this can lead to sinus, asthma, or headache in very rare cases. If the condition does not improve or gets worse, the best thing is to consult a doctor without delay.
How to avoid sneezing?
Now that we know the answer to when you sneeze does your heart stop, we should try to avoid the action to happen in the first place:
Understand what triggers a sneeze in you
There could be multiple reasons that can trigger a sneeze in you. It is important to understand these triggers and prevent them to avoid sneezing.
In case just avoiding isn’t working well enough, help from a doctor can treat these triggers. Some of the common triggers of a sneeze are mold, dust, strong perfumes and deodorants, pepper, salt, spices, and virus that causes the common cold, amongst others. If you cannot figure out what is exactly triggering your sneeze, you can always do an allergy test.
Protect yourself from dust
People with allergies are more likely to sneeze more than just once or twice. One of the main triggers of a sneeze is dust or air-borne diseases. While many of us can just avoid being in places where there could be a lot of dust, many professions force one to be around at all times.
In those cases, the best thing that you can do to avoid sneezing is always to wear a mask. This is one of the best ways to ensure that you are not inhaling any harmful particles through your nose.
Blow your nose often
Although blowing your nose does sound a little unclean, doing it just about when you know you are about to get a sneeze can protect you from sneezing.
As discussed before, your body discards any foreign particles or irritants present in your sinus or nose through a sneeze. Blowing the nose just when you feel like you are about to get a sneeze can help you get rid of the irritant bothering you.
Freeze the sneeze using your tongue
Did you know that you can use your tongue to diffuse a sneeze? You heard that right. Although there is no research to prove the same, trying it can be worth it, isn’t it? There are two ways to control your sneeze using your tongue.
The first one is to take your tongue and put it at the back of your two front teeth. Press the tongue hard until the sneeze diffuses. Another method involves brushing the roof of your upper jaw with the tongue until the urge to sneeze diffuses. These could be considered quick hacks and less as a proper medication to control sneezing.
Get allergy shots
If you are extremely sensitive to an allergen and get multiple sneezes when you come in contact with one, then the best advice for you is to consult a doctor.
An allergist would do a complete study of your sensitivity to the allergens and give you medications or allergy shots to treat the same.
An allergy shot infuses a little of the allergen into the body. The body then creates resistance for the same allergen and reduces your sensitivity.
Your allergist would decide how many allergy shots you need to create resistance based on how sensitive you are towards an allergen.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Apart from just the question, does your heart stop when you sneeze, there are some other common questions that people generally ask or worry about. Let us have a look at some of those:
Does your heart stop when you cough?
Coughing is one of the most natural phenomena that our body goes through. Therefore, needless to say, our heart does not stop when we cough. However, it does go through a series of little changes.
A pressure is generated at the chest when a person is about to cough, which also decreases the blood flow to the heart. As a result, the cardiac output also becomes less. However, the heart does return to its normal rate within a few seconds after the cough. The mechanism of our body is such that it would prevent any unforeseen problem if it occurs due to coughing at all.
Does your heart stop beating when you hiccup?
Hiccups occur when the left side of the diaphragm contracts at regular intervals. Unlike popular belief, the heart does not stop when you hiccup. Although hiccups are normal, they might be alarming and a problem when they are continuous and last for days. If you are getting constant hiccups occurring at an interval of three to four seconds, it is best advised to consult a doctor.
Does your heart stop when you sleep?
Our heart does not stop when we go off to sleep. However, what happens is the work of the heart might get decreased. This is because at night, when we are sleeping, our heart rate and blood pressure decrease since our body and mind are in a state of rest.
On the contrary, people who do not have a proper sleep cycle or are sleep-deprived might not show a good variability in their heart rate. Their heart rate is mostly elevated and therefore leads to various complications.
As per several studies conducted by researchers, good sleep shall ensure good heart health. Sleep deprivation, which is anything less than 6 hours, can increase the risk of heart diseases.
Sneezing is one of the most common phenomena that the body performs. In immediate contact with any dust or unwanted particles, you would notice the body exacting and throwing the foreign particle away in the form of a sneeze. However, the question that lingers in our head is whether your heart stops when you sneeze.
The article above describes the series of events that the heart goes through when you sneeze. No matter what, the next time someone murmurs a ‘God bless’ when you sneeze, explain to them the answer to whether your heart stops when you sneeze.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1. Does your heart actually stop when you sneeze?
Ans: No, it’s a common misconception. Your heart does not stop when you sneeze. Sneezing is a reflex action that temporarily interrupts your breathing, but your heart continues to beat normally.
Q2. Why does it feel like my heart skips a beat when I sneeze?
Ans: The sensation of your heart skipping a beat during a sneeze might be due to the sudden forceful movement involved in the sneezing reflex. This can momentarily affect your heart’s rhythm, but it quickly returns to normal.
Q3. How can I prevent the feeling of my heart skipping a beat when I sneeze?
Ans: You can’t entirely prevent the sensation, but staying healthy and maintaining good heart health through regular exercise, a balanced diet, and managing stress can support your heart’s overall function.