Dry and Wet Sneezes

Q: Hello. I have got 3 questions and I would be really grateful if you answer them.
1) I am from Pakistan. I am a young man- tall, strong, healthy, fit and exercise regularly. I am a bit curious about my sneeze. It’s a wet sounding, spraying type of a sneeze but not messy. What I am surprised about is that my sneeze is not very loud, sometimes it can be very quiet. Whereas young, strong men have very loud sneezes. In fact some women, one of them was very old and frail, had a louder and more forceful sneeze than I have. What could be the reason?
2) Why do some people have wet sneezes and some have dry cough like sneezes? Why do some people sneeze through nose and some through mouth?
3) Is it dangerous to sneeze through the nose?
– By XYZ


Let us first understand what a sneeze is.

The process starts with the irritation of our nasal mucosa by a stimulus, may be a foreign particle, cold air, dust, viral or bacterial particle, etc. In response to this stimulus, a gush of air is forcibly expelled out both through the nose and the mouth. This air expels out some mucous and the irritant.

Sneeze is a reflex action, so it cannot be stopped or modified in any way. It is a normal healthy response of the body.

Now coming to your questions.

The Force of Sneeze

This may be different in different individuals. May be the old lady requires a more forceful expulsion of air to get rid of the irritant and you can do it with a smaller effort.

The loudness of sneeze is not important when discussing its effectiveness. If you feel relieved, as if you got rid of some irritant, after your sneeze, your sneeze is good enough.

Wetness of Sneeze

The amount of mucous expelled out with a sneeze depends upon the nature of stimulus.

Some viruses, like the cold virus, triggers the mucosa to produce a lot of mucous. Mucous flows out with sneezes and even otherwise in the form of a running nose for about a week in common cold.

On the other hand, stimulus like cold wind may produce little mucous. Dust etc. may give an even drier sneeze or cough.

So it would depend upon the stimulus, how much mucous is produced.

Some people are particularly sensitive to specific stimuli. People who react more to stimuli producing more mucous, may be marked as having wetter sneezes.

Similarly, some people are often found to have drier sneezes.

However, apart from the stimulus responsible, there are some other factors that promote mucous production. It has been observed that people consuming more of fried fatty stuff usually have more mucous produced during illness.

An individual tendency for mucous formation may also differ.

A good tip is to have adequate water during times when you are sneezing more often. Water keep the mucous liquefied and aids in its quicker expulsion.

Is It Dangerous to Sneeze Through the Nose?

A normal sneeze is mainly through the nose but partly through the mouth too. If the air is expelled out solely through the nose, the pressure would be too much for the nose to bear.

This may rupture tiny capillaries of the nose. It can be damaging. Also,

Since sneeze is a normal reflex response of the body, it is suggested not to modify it.

Take Care,

Buddy M.D.

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