Health: Stifle not the sneeze

People will sneer at you if you let out a good sneeze in public without covering your mouth.

For good reasons.
A sneeze is a reflex act of forcefully and powerfully ejecting air from the mouth and nostrils simultaneously. In the process, irritants, which sometimes include viruses, bacteria and other lower forms of life are ejected from these cavities. These could cause diseases ranging from common cold to tuberculosis.

So, sneezing is natures way of forcing out these lethal particles.

People respond and react variously to the man sneezing next door. Sometimes a reaction could be as benevolent as just saying “bless you”. Or it could be a long, sneering look. But covering the mouth during a sneeze is not likely to lead to the later reaction.

If the mouth must be covered during the sneeze, it should be so done with either a handkerchief, the forearm or the back of the hand. It should never be with the palms unless it is possible to wash the hands immediately after. This is because the palms will transfer the micro organism to door handles, kitchen knives cups etc, and sustain the vicious cycle of infection.

Well, let me quickly observe that this is easier said than done. Being a reflex act, the sneeze leaves you no time to even reach into your pocket for your handkerchief before it spurts out. Your way of controlling it must therefore be done the way of a sneeze : by reflex!
There are, as well unrecognized, sweet aspects of the sneeze.

You may not believe this but a good sneeze is an enjoyable experience. It may leave you relaxed and elated, and you feel a sense of euphoria after the experience.

But, for one reason or the other, people, especially ladies stifle a sneeze. This, needless saying is wrong. When you do so, you deny your self the opportunity nature grants you to expel harmful substances from your body. And as well, you miss the exhilarating experience of an enjoyable natural reaction.

So, when next it comes, just allow it to flow…AHCHOO…

By Nestor B. Udom, BCPH, FMCP

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