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Quiz: The facts on sneezing

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"Achoo" is the universal word for a sneeze

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"Achoo" is the universal word for a sneeze

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The sound of your sneeze depends on where in the world you come from. In English-speaking nations the sound of a sneeze is expressed as 'achoo'. However, in France the expression is 'atchoum'.  Japanese people say 'ha-ching' and in the Philippines, the term is 'hakashun'.

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Wearing sunglasses and a big hat can cut your chances of sneezing

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Wearing sunglasses and a big hat can cut your chances of sneezing

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Bright light promotes sneezing, so anything that cuts down your exposure to light reduces the chance of a sneeze coming on. Bright sunshine or the flash of a camera can trigger the nerves that cause sneezing. Known as photic sneeze reflex, this is a genetic quirk that’s still not fully understood by scientists. It affects 1 in 4 people, but if your mum or dad sneezes when they look at a bright light, you are more likely to as well.

Which invention by Thomas Edison is associated with sneezing?

Which invention by Thomas Edison is associated with sneezing?

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In 1894, Thomas Edison made the first ever patented film that famously shows lab worker Fred Ott sneezing after taking a pinch of snuff. The film is only 48 frames long and was made to be played on Edison's kinetoscope. He confidently predicted his device would "do for the eye what the phonograph does for the ear".

Your nose sprays dead skin cells into the air when you sneeze.

Your nose sprays dead skin cells into the air when you sneeze.

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Mucus is the substance that sprays from your nose during a sneeze – mixed with other irritants like dirt, germs and pollen. Cold and flu viruses can also be spread by sneezing. They are in the tiny droplets of mucus sneezed into the air by an infected person, and breathed in by another person.

If you often sneeze after a big meal it may be:

If you often sneeze after a big meal it may be:

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No they aren’t real words, but snatiation refers to a real disorder that causes bursts of sneezing immediately after a large meal. This is triggered by a distended or full stomach and is associated with an autosomal dominant, hereditary trait. In other words, it's genetic – so if one of your parents has it, you may too. The word snatiation is a so-called backronym created from the words sneeze and satiation.

Saying 'bless you' as you sneeze is because of:

Saying 'bless you' as you sneeze is because of:

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'Bless you' is a popular utterance when someone sneezes. The origin is a mixture of religion, superstition and social etiquette. Some believe it began during the bubonic plague of 590 AD when a sneeze was a sign of the black death. Others believed a sneeze was a sign that your soul was escaping your body – hence the blessing. There are similar phrases worldwide, such as 'Banish the omen' (Greek), or 'Live' (Hindu). Whatever the origin, saying 'bless you' is polite social etiquette.

Some people have bouts of sneezing after sex.

Some people have bouts of sneezing after sex.

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Having sex and even just thinking about it, can trigger sneezing fits in some people. According to research it's caused by a faulty connection in the nervous system that may link the sneezing reflex to sexual response. It won't happen when you dream about sex, because when you sleep the reflex to sneeze is switched off, along with other reactions that are automatic when you're awake.

Which of these is fastest?

Which of these is fastest?

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Humans have the ability to sneeze at 100 miles an hour. That's faster than 58 mph for a speeding cheetah and 27 mph for Usain Bolt.

How should you deal with a sneeze?

How should you deal with a sneeze?

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Because coughs and sneezes really do spread diseases, the NHS advice for a sneeze is to 'catch it, bin it, kill it'. That means catching the sneeze in a tissue, then throwing the tissue in a bin and washing your hands to kill the germs rather than spreading them. Trying to stifle a sneeze risks damage to eardrums or sinuses, and can cause ear infections.

The spray shooting from your mouth and nose when you sneeze is most like:

The spray shooting from your mouth and nose when you sneeze is most like:

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Sneezing projects droplets of hot, humid air and gas, forming something resembling a storm cloud. Larger droplets fall first, while the smallest remain afloat. Research from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) found that droplets from coughs or sneezes can travel up to 200 times further than previously thought.

Which underwater creature sneezes?

Which underwater creature sneezes?

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The sponge is a filter feeder, which means it relies completely on water flow through its body for food, oxygen and waste removal. Sneezing ejects irritants such as sediment in the water. Unlike humans, this is a whole body response for the sponge and a process that takes 30 to 45 minutes of expansion and contraction. Biologists say this ability suggests these primitive creatures have a nose, or at least a sensory organ.

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