NOSE BROOM by Amber Poer and Jeremy Hess

They’ll come at any time of day; in the middle of a meeting, a presentation, a stage debut, and they’ll come in fits of threes. Some people hold it in, some people let everything spray. Some people squeak when they sneeze; for others it takes more volume to get everything out.

Heritage student Becky Savage has one of those recognizably loud sneezes.

“Once in freshman year,” she tells us, “I was in the computer lab during 6th period. I sneezed and my science teacher opened the door to her classroom. Everyone in her class had heard me and they laughed and yelled ‘Bless you!’” Her sneeze is so loud, people used to yell “Bless you!” just to match the volume of her sternutation.

Sneezes happen when an irritant tickles you nose hairs, but it takes teamwork for a sneeze to happen. The nose hairs just act as a broom—it takes all the particles that we breathe in every breath absorbs them. They make sure we don’t sneeze every time we breathe. When a particle gets by that the body does not want in the lungs, the tickled hairs send a signal through nerves in the upper lining of the nose to the part of the brain called the medulla . The medulla then tells the eyes to shut and the chest to constrict which helps propel the air out of the lungs—as fast as 100mph.

The old wives’ tale that our heart stops every time we sneeze that is not true that it signals a lot of things but it does not stop the heart.

Many things make us sneeze, ranging from secondhand smoke, pet allergens, dust, pollen and the Photic Reflex Sneeze phenomenon.
As annoying and gross as sneezes can be, it’s a natural mechanism your body performs to keep you healthy. And boy, does it feel good once that snot blows, no matter how loud it is.