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Does Your Heart Actually Stop When You Sneeze?

Find out if your ticker takes a breather when you let out a sneezer.

There’s no doubt that a sneeze involves many parts of the body—probably more body parts and organs than you think. But does a sneeze affect the heart? 

How a Sneeze Affects The Body

A sneeze is often triggered by an outside irritant, such as dust, pollen, or the sun. Sometimes, sneezing can even be triggered by more mysterious catalysts, such as strong emotions or an orgasm. (Learn more about what can cause a sneeze here.)

This irritant then tickles the nerve endings in your nose, sending a message to your brain about the forgein invader. The brain then knows it needs to get that sucker outta there. 

You take a deep breath and hold it, which tightens the muscles in your chest. The pressure in your lungs increases. You then close your eyes and prep your hands to cover your mouth and nose (hopefully). Your tongue presses against the roof of your mouth and BOOM! You let out a big ol’ sneeze. (Seriously, though, learn more about why it’s super important to cover your mouth when you sneeze.)

So, Does a Sneeze Make Your Heart Stop? 

While many bodily functions are involved every time you sneeze, it’s a myth that your heart stops during the attack. Your heart, however, may not go unaffected.

When you sneeze, the pressure in your upper body momentarily increases. This decreases blood flow back to the heart. This change in blood flow might temporarily affect the heart’s rhythm as it adjusts, which may give you the sensation that the heart “skipped a beat.” The electrical activity in your heart, however, doesn’t stop.

Sneezing is healthy, natural, and an important part of your body’s defense system. So, try not to take this myth to heart. 

Duration: 1:16. Last Updated On: Oct. 2, 2019, 5:53 p.m.
Reviewed by: Preeti Parikh, MD . Review date: Oct. 2, 2019
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