Thursday, May 19, 2011

What I Learned About Sneezing

In general, I don't care for research. This is why I will probably never write historical fiction. However, there are times when, in the course of writing a scene, I doubt myself and feel the need to go googling. I was researching the act of sneezing the other day with the aim of determining how badly you can injure yourself in the act. I had heard that your heart stops when you sneeze and for years this sounded completely reasonable to me. After all, if a sneeze can force you to shut your eyes when you're blazing down the expressway at 85, 65 then surely it can stop your ticker.

Turns out it can't. I know, I was a little bummed too.

So then I googled, "Can sneezing kill you?" because, let's face it, we're kind of fragile things, we humans.

Alas, sneezing rarely leads to death (although if you're sick and you sneeze on a really old person, there's a chance).

But don't be disheartened. Sneezing can jack you up in lots of other wonderful ways. Scientists estimate the speed of a sneeze (band name alert) at 650 mph. Not surprisingly, it's kind of stupid to try and hold this sort of force back. You can bust an eardrum, tear blood vessels, damage your sinuses, or even cause a brain hemorrhage. (Never realized stifling a sneeze and watching Joy Behar had so much in common.)

And even if you don't hold them back, sneezes can be strong enough to cause a whiplash effect, leading to pulled muscles, bitten tongues, and even broken teeth.

In short, sneezes are bad ass.

And occasionally, so is research.

Here's a video of a baby panda sneezing and scaring all hell out of its mother:

And in a "you-can't-make-this-sort-of-thing-up" blessing, here's a news article about a girl who can't stop sneezing, a condition called Paediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorder Associated with Streptococcus, AKA...yep...PANDAS.




The Wife said...

Laughed out loud during class at the panda. Nicely done.

Uncle Pat said...

Love the panda bit!

For what it's worth, MythBusters debunked the speed of a sneeze thing...

Anita said...

Will show video to everyone I know. Did you know that when you have the urge to sneeze you can suppress it by rubbing the roof of your mouth with your tongue? Seriously.

Tracy Edward Wymer said...


Barbara Kloss said...

I love the sneezing panda! (new follower here, hi! Saw you through Anita's blog...)

And be sure and sneeze into your elbow!