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Why Does It Hurt When I Sneeze?
--- Causes and Top 7 Natural
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September 14, 2015
By Susan Callahan, Contributing Columnist
Sneezing can either be a dainty affair --- a mere “achew! ---
or it can be the mighty wind blowing, a gale force of wind.
Why does sneezing hurt sometimes? Is pain when you
sneeze a symptom of more serious medical conditions? Are
there any remedies for painful sneezing?
A Sneeze Is Not That Simple
We humans sneeze and few other animals do. One animal
which does sneeze is the cat. A part of the cat’s brain
sometimes called the “sneeze inducing center” triggers a
sneeze. In humans, there is no such “sneeze center”.
Sneezing involves many muscles and many systems of the
human body. The nose, muscles of the face (eyelids
included), throat, chest, abdomen, sinus nerves and the
central nervous system can all be involved in the production
of a sneeze.
Sneezes can be triggered by many factors. Most often,
sneezes are triggered by nasal irritants --- smoke, ragweed
and other allergens, pepper.
But there are some far more unusual triggers for sneezing. In
some people, emerging from darkness into bright light can
trigger a sneeze. This phenomenon is called “photic
sneezing”. A longer name also used to describe this
condition is “autosomal dominant compelling helioopthalmic
outburst (the “ACHOO syndrome”.) An even lesser known
phenomenon is sneezing triggered by medical conditions such
as epilepsy or psychogenic pathologies.
Some Men Sneeze When They Get Sexually Aroused
In some people, notably in some men, sneezing can even be
triggered by sexual thoughts. The connection between
sneezing and sexual stimulation was first noticed in 1875 by
Dr.. W.C. Watson of London. More recently, a 2012 study
from Wexham Park Hospital in the UK observed the
phenomenon in a middle aged man, who had uncontrollable
fits of sneezing whenever he had a sexual thought.
This study described another case from a different study
involving a man who had uncontrollable sneezing when he
reached orgasm. These cases suggest that sneezing may
involve the sensitization of the nerves that activate the sexual
How much force do sneezes produce? Non-scientific
estimates vary from 100 miles per hour to 650 miles per
hour. Sneezes have been clocked by scientists at 4.5 meters
per second, which is the equivalent of 270 meters per hour
(167 miles per hour), according to a 2013 study from the
Alberta Provincial Laboratory for Public Health, University of
Alberta Hospital, Edmonton, Canada.
How fast is that? That's faster than the high speed Amtrak
train in the US (150 miles per hour) and faster than most
high speed trains in Europe (155 miles per hour).
Can Sneezing Hard Harm You?
Sneezing is a natural response to irritants but in some cases
the force of the sneeze can harm you. Sneezing, some
scientists believe is a factor in causing conduction deafness
and cerebral hemorrhages.
Here are the top 7 reasons you feel pain when you sneeze
and natural remedies:
1. Suppressing a Sneeze. Because of the velocity of a sneeze
--- faster than a speeding train --- suppressing a sneeze can
cause a violent collision of air with your delicate nasal
passages, throat or chest cavity. Pain from a suppressed
sneeze can be found in any of the areas that a sneeze affects,
including your lower abdomen and groin.
2. Hernia. A hernia is an out-pocketing of intestinal tissue.
When you sneeze, you can cause pressure on this area and
4. Costochondritis. Small tears in the place where your chest
muscles attach to your rib cage can become inflamed and
produce pain that mimics a heart attack. Sneezing when you
have these small tears can cause pain in your chest.
5. Gilmore’s Groin. Named after its discoverer, Dr. Jerry
Gilmore of London, Gilmore’s groin (also called “pubalgia”
and “groin disruption” )vis an injury in the area where your
leg meets your torso.
Gilmore’s groin is not the same as a hernia, though it is often
misdiagnosed as hernia. A good list of the symptoms is from
a 1995 study from Eat Glamorgan General Hospital in the Mid
Patients present with chronic groin pain which is aggravated
by sudden and twisting movements and, in particular, by the
action of kicking a ball, coughing and even sneezing.
This hospital notes that even rolling over in bed may be
enough to exacerbate symptoms. Interesting, "Few patients
recall an actual 'event' or moment when the injury was first
Sneezing is, as you see, one of the actions that can trigger
excruciating pain if you have Gilmore’s groin. The remedy for
Gilmore’s groin depends on its severity. Sometimes rest
alone will allow the tears to heal. In other cases
physiotherapy helps and in still other most severe cases,
surgery may be necessary.
6. Gas. Eating food too quickly can cause bloating and gas
production in your abdominal tract. Other causes include
hard to digest foods such as beans or broccoli. Bloating and
gas which causes bloating can also cause pain when you
sneeze because gas expands, and the added pressure created
when you sneeze presses on the expanded areas, causing
7. Weak Pelvic Muscles. Related to the cause of pain from
hernias, weak pelvic muscles can create pain when you
sneeze. Practice shutting off your urine flow when you pee.
This action locates your pelvic floor. Once you can feel the
location of your pelvic floor, practice tightening those
muscles to the count of 10 about 2 to 3 times a day.
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