It is quite a common myth that the heart stops beating when one sneezes. It is true that the human body goes through many changes during sneezing, but, the heart stopping is not one of them. However, this is so widespread that people have inclined to actually pass this ‘information’ on without questioning it. As they say, you only have to tell a lie several times for people to start believing it, anyway.
Now, let us dismantle this long-held belief!
What Really Happens When You Sneeze?
We have to first understand what happens during sneezing. Sneezing is, in fact, a reflex action – you have no control over it like for voluntary actions. Reflex actions are those that happen as a result of some stimulation from the environment, and you cannot do much about it since they are involuntary.
When some foreign substance irritates one’s nose, the body reacts in order to get rid of the object in question. As the nose feels the sensation via the nerve endings lining inside, this information travels along the nerves to the brain so that a reaction can take place as the information is to be processed by the brain.
When the brain gets the signal, it triggers a number of reactions to occur; it, in turn, sends messages to the appropriate tissues, like chest muscles, to cause a reaction. So, when the nerves in the nose relay the information of the presence of foreign entities to the brain, the latter causes the eyes to close, the chest to contract such that the lungs are forced to expel air out at extremely high speeds – 161 km/h.
And, that is how sneezing occurs, thereby ridding your body of the foreign substance that was causing irritation. The brain does send messages to the chest and eyes, but the heart is not directly involved in the processes. Therefore, it is clear that the heart is not triggered by the brain to stop. The heart keeps beating when one sneezes, no matter what the people might relate of weird beliefs associated with sneezing!
However, the heart rhythm does undergo changes
Your heart does experience certain changes though. The reactions that occur do have an impact on the heart – sneezing has an indirect impact on the life-pumping organ.
As the chest muscles tighten, the pressure inside the lungs rises. This change in the pressure of the lungs impacts on the heart as the blood flow is also modified during this momentary event. The rhythm of the heart changes with the blood flow. This gives rise to a sensation of the heart skipping a beat because of the difference in heart rhythm.
This could be the reason behind the myth of the heart stopping. The rhythm change occurs as a result of having a pause between two heart beats. If the delay between the two heart beats is long enough, the second one would feel to be more forceful – the difference in between the two is what one actually feels.
More myths – “Sneezing expels the soul out of the body”
Oh, that’s not all. Another myth exists about sneezing. Some even say that one’s soul is sneezed out! Like, when one sneezes, the person’s soul gets propelled out of one’s body, unless the soul in question is blessed, thereby being allowed to stay inside.
Some others considered sneezing to be a dangerous act, because according to their beliefs, sneezing is a way of expelling foreign evil spirits out of one’s body. Where’s the danger? Well, these evil spirits could thereafter enter others who are in the presence of the person who sneezed! Wow, would you think twice before being in the presence of sneezing people?! Like, when someone sneezes, shout out DANGER and run for your life!