April 7, 2010

A man sneezed on the DLR today. It’s very sad that something as mundane as a man sneezing should catch my attention and become a subject for this blog, but it set me thinking about the nature of the sneeze and the different styles. I think sneezes fall into two basic categories: the hold it in or internal sneeze which results in a strangely cute muffling sound, though you worry their head will explode as they’re suppressing such a powerful spasm and the let it all hang out or external sneeze where the ferocity of the sound could give the sirens from emergency services a run for their money. The sneezing man on the DLR was the first type, holding his nose and keeping his mouth closed as he tried to be quiet in polite company. I imagined his head expanding and eyes popping out as the force that should’ve been expelled was internalised.

If you hold in your sneeze, this is what you'll look like (alien from Mars Attack)

Let this be a lesson to you, internal sneezers

I’m the second type, though I’m not a very loud sneezer. I pass that honour to a relative of mine, who, if they had stood behind me as I prepared for a high jump at the Olympics and just let rip, the shock would’ve sent me skywards towards gold without the need of a pole to guide me.

On typing the word ‘sneezing’ in Google, I discovered such delights as a forum for sneezing fetishists (yes, really) and reverse sneezing, which I’d never heard of until I saw a couple of clips on YouTube. It only affects dogs and isn’t dangerous, but it’s uncomfortable to watch. It looks and sounds like they’re struggling to breathe, giving you the increasing sense of dread that they would collapse at any moment. Kitten sneezing on the other hand, is a variation on the cute kitten phenomenon, which is like a John Coltrane Jazz standard in the Internet world. There’s sneezing caused by pollen, or other allergens, which makes a miserable summer for some. Others can’t be in a house with pets as the hairs are the irritants that trigger off sneezing and possibly more. Then there’s Photic Sneeze Reflex caused by a sudden exposure to bright light. The speed of your sneeze can be as fast as 75kph or 47mph, sending all kinds of goodies in the air that we can all enjoy. Not using a handkerchief, or your hand enables the spread of diseases. I covered that particular bugbear of mine when I wrote about swine flu last year, so I won’t go into detail here. Sneezes can be pleasurable. The tickling build up of that irritant in your nose, taking almost every part of your body to the brink is fantastic. Once you’ve sneezed and let everything go, you’re left feeling calm, happy and knowing that all is now right with the world.

There’s probably lots more stuff about sneezing I haven’t covered here, but if you have any facts to impart, want to let the world know whether you are an internal or external sneezer, or when you last had a good sneeze, then do it here.



  1. I had forgotten all about photic sneezing. They aren’t sure but think it’s an inherited neurological malfunction of the trigeminal nerve. I have sure never heard of sneeze fetishists, and find that idea hilarious. Would they buy “snuffle” films?

    • Snuffle films are definitely the way to go for a sneeze fetishist, Mikey.

      Inherited neurological malfunction of the trigeminal nerve? Is there anything you don’t know?

      • I don’t know when I’ll get an actual full-time paycheck. It’s making me feel really stoopid.

  2. Photic Sneezing is all new to me, you are educational!

    Why do sneezes come in clusters?

    • Educational? Nah! It’s Wikepedia, innit. You know I have no idea why sneezes come in clusters. It’s one of those strange phenomena, a mystery of life itself.

  3. Your post prompted me to go searching for a good sneeze poem to share here. I was sure someone like Ogden Nash would have written one but either he didn’t or it’s hidden from me.

    Anyways, here’s one that’s quite nice

    I sneezed a sneeze into the air.
    It fell to earth I know not where.
    But you shoulda seen the looks on those
    In whose vicinity I snoze.

    –Merwyn Bogue AKA Ish Kabibble

    PS If anyone knows a good one, I’d be grateful if you’d share it or share the source.

    • What a great contribution, Thoughtbubble. Thank you so much.

  4. This lady is on an airplane and is seated next to a man named Ian McKegney. About half an hour after they take off, Ian sneezed. He calmly opened his fly, took out his penis and wiped it with a handkerchief. The lady was shocked but a little too shy to say anything.

    About 15 minutes later, Ian sneezed again and then once more opened his fly, grabbed his penis and wiped it off. The lady could not believe it, and being to shy to mention it, she thought to herself, “If he does that again, I’m definitely going to mention it.”

    Well, guess what? About 10 minutes later, Ian sneezed again and proceeded as before. She turned to Ian and said, “That is disgusting! Must you do that in front of me?” Ian apologized and explained that it was a medical condition, “Every time I sneeze, I have an orgasm,” he explained.

    “Really, what do you take for that?” she asked.

    Ian replied, “Pepper.”

    Nice post pie…

    • Nice response, dream. It was a good job I didn’t have a drink to hand when I was checking for comments, otherwise I would’ve spat it out, or spilled it. I wouldn’t usually allow a comment like this, as I don’t want to encourage people to just put in risque jokes (which I would delete anyway), but it was entirely on topic, so for that reason it stays. It also made me laugh.

      • errr, to be honest I didn’t read the joke properly before posting. then was a little horrified when I realised what I had posted. oops!
        who thought sneeze jokes could be so dirty…

        • Let that be a lesson to you, dream 😉

  5. I am definitely an external sneezer that covers everytime. I like the quick climactic buildup to a sneeze, release, and you’re right … the world is then at peace.


    • That climatic build up is great, isn’t it? Do you think that if you tried to keep your eyes open while you sneezed, they’d shoot out of your sockets? By the way, thanks for paying a visit to my blog. Have another look whenever it takes your fancy.

  6. I’m an internal sneezer! I’ve actually forgotten how to sneeze externally… I started to sneeze that way because then I don’t spray my hand with my spit or accidently spray another person! It’s not THAT uncomfortable as you describe it. Haha but I like your picture 😛

    • Yeah, that picture illustrated my imagination well, I think. Thanks for reassuring me regarding the discomfort of holding in a sneeze. I won’t be so concerned when I see an internal sneezer in future.

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