What about the side effects of sneezing

Sneezing is a way for the body to get rid of unwanted objects such as particles of dirt or other environmental irritants. One trigger for sneezing is when something in the nose tickles. Sneezing is a symptom of allergies, colds, the flu and other diseases. Some people sneeze when they are exposed to bright light and individuals with this possibly inherited condition are called ”photic sneezers.”?

What Causes a Sneeze?

  • Sneezing is a complex physiological process that begins when the nose encounters stimuli such as dust or smoke. This informs the part of the brain that controls sneezing that something must be expelled from the nose. The brain then sends messages to different muscle groups, causing many of the muscles in the body to become active in the sneezing process. All of this activity goes into a single sneeze, and because so many parts of the body are involved, there can be various side effects.

Muscles Involved in Creating a Sneeze

  • In an iVillage/Your Health article, professor and allergist Dr. Norman Klein explains that muscles must contract in a specific order for a sneeze to occur.
    “The muscles and their order of contraction are: ?
    1. Abdominal muscles ?
    2. Chest muscles ?
    3. Diaphragm (large muscles beneath the lungs) ?
    4. Vocal cord muscles ?
    5. Muscles in the back of the throat ?
    6. Muscles in the eyelids (the eyes involuntarily close during a sneeze).”

Back-Related Injuries

  • A strenuous coughing or sneezing attack can leave you with back spasms and upper or lower back pain and can cause injury. Vigorous sneezing not only wracks your entire body, but the pressure can be so intense it may actually cause a weakened spinal disc to herniate. Sneezing aggravates already existent musculoskeletal strain and might increase back pain that resulted from a previous injury. ??

    Sneezing can cause someone to sprain a ligament in the lower back. Sciatica may be made worse by sneezing and, although this is not a common occurrence, a very powerful sneeze might result in a torn muscle or even a fractured ”floater” rib.

Ribs, Nerves and Pulled Muscles

  • A sneeze can pull the intercostal muscle, which is a small muscle between the ribs, and this can be extremely painful. Also very painful is when the power of a sneeze causes the position of the joint where the rib meets the spine to become misaligned. Sneezing can trigger muscle spasms and aggravate pinched nerves, both of which may result in pain and discomfort.


  • People suffering from osteoporosis–a disease that causes the loss of bone density, resulting in thinning of bone tissue and greater susceptibility to broken bones–can sustain injury from falls, from lifting heavy objects, and from the force of sneezing. Forceful sneezing is particularly dangerous for the elderly and has been known to result in painful vertebral compression fractures, which is when the bones of the spine become broken due to trauma.

Aortic Dissection

  • It is possible for a sneeze to contribute to causing a tear in the aorta. This condition is known as ”aortic dissection.” In a case report entitled, “Acute Aortic Dissection Provoked by Sneeze,” scientists discuss the relationship between sneezing and aortic dissection and focus on “a patient in whom the development of aortic dissection was secondary to sneezing, even though hypertension was present as a risk factor.” The results of this study were not conclusive and the researchers were unable to say for sure whether or not the sneeze alone caused the aortic tear.

Heart Attack Myth

  • It is not possible for a violent sneeze to cause a heart attack. A sneeze can cause symptoms similar to what you might experience during a heart attack, such as feeling lightheaded or dizzy or experiencing a sensation of tightness in your chest. The diaphragm muscle contracting could cause this feeling of tightness by exerting pressure on your upper chest, but it is not a heart attack.

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Article: What about the side effects of sneezing


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