At any moment, you can get stuck on the brink of sneezing. It’s extremely irritating to feel like you’re about to sneeze but you just can’t do it. Many describe it as a sort of an itch, and people with allergies are particularly prone to this feeling.
If you’re wondering how to make yourself sneeze, here’s a selection of tips that are backed up by science.
1. Press Your Tongue to the Roof of Your Mouth
The most important nerve that controls your face is called the trigeminal nerve and it runs along the top of your mouth. If you can stimulate the nerve, you may be able to induce a sneeze. So try to massage the roof of your mouth with your tongue.
Simply use the tip of your tongue and then press it against the top of your mouth. Try to do this far back in your throat, and poke around until you find the nerve.
2. Massage Your Nose
Here’s another way you can access this nerve. With your forefinger and thumb, massage the bridge of your nose until the itching sensation intensifies. Once you’ve found the right spot, apply some pressure.
Note that this method is especially useful if you have a cold or you’re suffering the symptoms of an allergy. The build-up of mucus in your nose might be why you need to sneeze.
3. Stimulate One of Your Nostrils
You can also affect the trigeminal nerve through the nostril.
One option is to use a tissue you rolled up into a tip. Very carefully, you can place it in the nostril and then wiggle it around. The trigeminal nerve will react by prompting a sneeze.
Another way you can do this is to pluck a nose hair. Nose hair serves an important function and removing it can be painful. Still, it is safe to pluck a single hair out of your nose and you could activate the nerve by doing so.
4. Pluck an Eyebrow Hair
Plucking your eyebrows is another way to access the trigeminal nerve. You might need to tweeze several hairs to achieve the desired results.
5. Tickle Under the Nose
Using a feather can help you sneeze. Just make sure to tickle the underside of your nose instead of putting the feather inside the nostril.
6. Use Strong Scents
Spices and perfume can also help you get rid of that pre-sneeze feeling. Extremely strong scents can irritate the nerves enough to activate a sneezing response. You can also sniff capsaicin or strongly scented essential oils.
7. Try a Spicy Snack
Eating spicy food can help your nose start running because it affects the mucous membrane. Going for spicy food is one of the best ways to clear your nose of irritants such as dust or pollen. Hot soup can help as well.
8. Take a Bite of Chocolate
You can also try some dark chocolate, especially if it has a cocoa content of over 70%. It’s not clear yet why chocolate has this effect on people, but it’s worth a try. People who don’t consume dark chocolate often are especially likely to react to this treat with a sneeze.
9. Grab a Drink
Carbonated drinks such as sodas can help you start sneezing if you’re feeling stuck. The carbon dioxide has an impact on a receptor in your tongue, specifically the TRPA1 receptor. Your body has a strong sensory reaction, and sneezing can be a part of that.
10. Look Into the Light
Stepping out into the sun could be the key to your problem, as long as you don’t look at it directly. Looking into a bright artificial light can be useful as well. For most people, looking into a flashlight should be safe.
Why does looking at light make you sneeze? The answer lies in something called Autosomal Dominant Compelling Helio-Ophthalmic Outburst Syndrome, or ACHOO syndrome for short.
As with chocolate, science hasn’t yet explained the connection entirely. Some people react to strong lights with sneezing. If one of your parents has ACHOO syndrome, there’s a 50% possibility that you have inherited it.
ACHOO syndrome isn’t dangerous at all, it’s just a minor quirk some people have. When you are nearly ready to sneeze, it’s a good idea to make use of it.
11. Go Out in the Cold Air
Another thing you can do is create a breeze or step outside for a moment. The change in temperature could lead to sneezing. Turning the A/C low is a good solution too.
How to Keep Yourself from Sneezing?
Now that you know how to make yourself sneeze, you might be wondering about the opposite. Sneezing can be inconvenient and it draws attention to you in public. Is there a way to stop a sneeze before it happens?
There are many scientifically-backed ways to avoid sneezing. Let’s look at the basics.
1. Learn the Triggers and Try to Remove Them
Sneezing can be a response to scents or particles that are irritating your nose. Once you’ve identified the source of the problem, you may be able to find a way to avoid the irritants going forward. If your sneezing is intense and unceasing, there might be an allergy that you need to take care of.
2. Close Your Eyes
If you have ACHOO syndrome, looking away from the light could keep you from sneezing.
3. Blow Your Nose
It’s not necessarily any less distracting to do this in public. But if you can do it quietly, blowing your nose could help you get rid of the sensation of being just about to sneeze.
One More Word
Is sneezing ever dangerous? Sneezing isn’t risky at all, but it can be uncomfortable. If you sneeze often, you might want to take some time to find out what is causing it. For example, it might be a benign symptom of a dangerous allergy. Remember that allergic medication is a useful option for many people.
What about stopping sneezes before they happen? Could that damage your health?
In the vast majority of cases, it’s perfectly safe to hold back a sneeze. However, there are certain health risks you should consider. There’s one famous case of a man who ripped a hole in his own throat by holding back a sneeze. Some people have also ruptured their eardrums or pulled their back in the process.
So if you’re trying to decide what to do when you feel like sneezing, it’s best to play it safe. Try one of our tricks and go right ahead and achoo.