Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Don't Sneeze with Your Eyes Open!!

Ever since I was little I have been told by numerous people that if I sneezed with my eyes open, my eyes would pop right out of my head; people still tell me this to this day. I have always questioned the truth behind this statement (and have also tried several times to actually sneeze with my eyes open), however I have never actually done research on the old myth; that is, until now.
First, it is important to understand what exactly goes on when we sneeze. Sneezing is the body's way of protecting itself from dust, pollen, pet hair, and other allergens; it literally serves to expel these annoying particles from our body. It is also common to sneeze when coming in contact with cold air, and when you have a cold, because the inside of the nasal cavity becomes swollen and, therefore, much more sensitive than usual. Although sneezing is an involuntary action, it involves quite a systematic process. The process begins by an irritation to the nasal lining, which then makes the nerves in the area send a message to the medulla (the lower portion of the brain). The brain then triggers the rest of the process necessary for a sneeze to occur. The muscles in the chest expand, the diaphragm contracts, as well as the muscles that are in the back of the throat and the vocal cords, and the lungs fill with air. The stomach and chest muscles then begin to contract, as well. Finally, the sneeze occurs, and the "sneezer" feels that awesome feeling of relief. The spray from the sneeze is filled with saliva and mucus, and is in the form of about 2,000 to 5,000 droplets that leave your mouth at an amazing speed between 70 and 100 mph. The expulsion of this mucus clears the naval cavity and provides relief.
Oh, and one last, very important thing happens during a sneeze; the eyes squeeze shut. Why does this happen? And if you do, somehow, keep them from squeezing shut, will your eyes, in fact, pop out of your head? The answer to the latter question is: no, our eyes will not pop out of our heads if we keep them open during a sneeze; in fact, some people don't even close their eyes when they sneeze. Our eyes are much too securely attached to our heads by many different muscles for them to be able to pop out simply from a sneeze. So, why do people insist that our eyes will pop out? Well, because it seems impossible for most people not to close their eyes when they sneeze, they want a good reason as to why this occurs. Therefore, accepting this widespread belief provides closure for them. What is the real purpose of our eyes closing shut during a sneeze? Unfortunately, the answer is a pretty boring one; there appears to be no reason why this occurs. It seems to be just another involuntary action that happens to our body, just like when you kick your leg up when it is tapped on its reflex on the knee. In conclusion, we no longer need to stress about our eye balls expelling from our heads everytime we sneeze now; the bigger issue is the amount of germs and mucus we spray on people.


1 comment:

  1. Interesting post. I remember trying to sneeze with my eyes open as a kid and personally had no clue that it was even possible to sneeze with your eyes open!