When something irritates your nose, you sneeze. Maybe even a couple of times and then stop. Simple enough, right? Maybe not.
A sneeze is kind of like rebooting a computer. It’s a natural cleansing reflex for when say, dust and other allergens, bacteria and viruses get trapped in your nasal passages. A signal is sent to your brain, which in turn triggers other bodily responses — namely, that accompanying wet blast of saliva and mucus from your nostrils, that can radiate as far as 5 feet.
And then there’s the almost sneeze, the sneeze manqué. You know the one where you’ve got the “AH” but can’t get out the “CHOO!” So frustrating, right? “If the sensation to sneeze goes away, it most likely means that the irritation has passed as well,” says Dr. William Reisacher, the director of Allergy Services at Weill Cornell Medical College. Maybe so, but the internet has a plethora of remedies for that moment when you still feel like you have to sneeze, but it just won’t come out.
YouTube tutorial videos suggest everything from plucking your eyebrows to chewing peppermint gum (because everyone has tweezers and gum at their fingertips at all times, right?).
Well if that doesn’t work you can always step outside and breathe in cold air. (Not an option if you live in warmer climates.) Still no luck, there’s always sniffing an open bottle of black pepper or perfume.
Hey, but if you’re part of the 10 to 35 percent of the population who react to sudden sunlight with a sneeze — a phenomenon known as photic sneeze reflex , you’ve got it made and can skip all of the previously mentioned suggestions.
If not, the question remains: What do you do with a sneeze deferred? Try tickling your nasal cavity with a pointy rolled up tissue, prepare for the release to begin and then Dr. Reisacher says, “There’s no need to do anything about the situation except to have a tissue ready.”