Good Question: Why Does Sneezing Feel So Good?

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It’s spring allergy season, and we’re hearing more and more sneezing everywhere. There’s the pain of the anticipation before the sneeze, and then the relief after. So why does sneezing feel so good?

“If I’m around other people, I tend to scare them,” laughed Allen Mestad, an Eden Prairie man who emailed WCCO with his Good Question.

“What causes the euphoric feeling when I sneeze?” asked Mestad. “It’s almost a tingling sensation.”

“There’s a sense of feeling relief,” said Dr. Holly Boyer, an Ear, Nose, Throat specialist at University of Minnesota.

According to Boyer, “the muscle tension that builds up in your chest causes pressure, and when you sneeze and the muscles relax, it releases pressure. Anytime you release pressure, it feels good.”

She said it’s like the high you get after an intense workout, but there’s also a chemical reaction that happens post-sneeze.

“There’s also some evidence that endorphins are released, which causes your body to feel good,” she said.

Endorphins stimulate the brain’s pleasure center, and because they come in a quick burst, so does the pleasure.

“Once a sneeze starts, you can’t stop it because it’s a reflex. So, the stimulation starts, sends a signal to the brain that there’s something irritating inside the nose,” Boyer said.

The signaling takes place in the autonomous nervous system, and according to Boyer, those nerves run throughout the body.

Two British researchers published in a medical journal arguing that there are cases of someone having an orgasm during sex, that triggers a bout of sneezing.

The theory is that the autonomous nervous system is somewhat mysterious, and sometimes the signals get sent to the wrong place.

Boyer said there’s not much serious medical research on the phenomenon. But she said there’s no doubt that sneezing does feel good.

“It’s a reflex response to protect you more than anything,” she said.

More from Jason DeRusha
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