Why do you close your eyes while sneezing?

Whether you like it or not, who sneezes is "blind" for a moment. Because when sneezing you automatically close your eyes. Even if you wanted to consciously try to keep your eyes open, that would not work. Because sneezing and the simultaneous closing of the eyes is a natural bodily reflex. The sneezing reflex can be triggered by foreign bodies or inflammation of the nasal mucosa, but also by looking into bright light.

How sneezing works

If, for example, a speck of dust gets into the nose, it irritates sensory cells there. These in turn activate the autonomic nervous system in the spinal cord as a switching cell of the reflexes: a signal causes a movement impulse in the diaphragm, whose muscles accumulate air and send it into the frontal sinus. There, an air pressure is created that discharges like an explosion while sneezing. Since closing the eyes is also a reflex, you can not do anything about it.

Sense or nonsense

To this day, one does not know exactly what this reflex should actually be good for. It is believed that the eyes should be protected from overpressure by closing the eyelids, because sneezing creates a lot of pressure. It is more likely, however, that the purpose of eye closure is simply to prevent bacteria or viruses contained in the nasal secretions from getting into the eyes.

In any case, the sneezing reflex in some cases even unpleasant consequences: For closed eyes after a repeated sneeze, for example, could lead to accidents when driving. Allergy sufferers should have an up to 30 percent higher accident risk in road traffic than healthy people. Violent sneezing and watery eyes are not only annoying, but could also be a security risk, warns the managing director of the German skin and allergy help, Erhard Hackler. While the driver sneezed in the handkerchief, put the car back many meters in blind flight. But "Schnupfnasen" should anyway better stay in bed.

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