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Sneezing is GOOD Thing


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It's simple: You sneeze, you live

By JEFF McMILLAN

The Associated Press

As allergy season shifts into high gear, those who let fly six or seven times in a row are sure to be reminded that each time you do, your heart stops, your senses shut down and your brain ceases to function, but for a tiny fraction of a second.

So is it true that you temporarily "die" when you sneeze?

Not even close, and we have it on good authority. Dr. Ash Kacker — an ear, nose and throat specialist and sinus surgeon at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York — assures us that it's just an old wives' tale.

You do hold your breath for a second before the sneeze, but who can't handle that?

"Sneezing is a really critical function," Kacker says. "Like a cough, sneezing helps cleanse the nasal passages."

Sneezing follows these steps: The sneezer takes a deep breath, holds it and releases air through the nose to expel pollen, mucus or whatever might be irritating the nasal passages.

"What you have to do to be able to sneeze is build up a positive pressure in your chest, and then you have to be able to sneeze it out," Kacker says.

That pressure can be transferred elsewhere in the body, which is why people can suffer cramps or other maladies after sneezing.

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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