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Why do people say "bless you" when you sneeze?

During the first wave of plagues in the 6th century, Pope Gregory the Great ordered that anyone who sneezed should be blessed immediately, as sneezing was often the first sign of plague infection

Soon "God bless you" became a custom for occasional sneezes and its still used today. 

If we analyze the physiological process of sneezing, it stimulates sudden contraction of the exhalation muscles and thus the expulsion of nasal secretions as well as dust and foreign bodies through the nose and mouth. Due to the large number and high speed of the droplets emitted, possible infection can be spread to a distance up to five meters. 

So it's no wonder that we wish each other “good health”.

Drawing of a girl sneezing


Sneezing is a defense reaction against potentially harmful stimuli. Stopping the urge to sneeze is a bad idea for several reasons.

How to sneeze properly

The speed of a sneeze can easily match a hurricane. The suppression of sneezing can lead to increased pressure in the draining cerebral vein and thus in the head, similar to pressing. For this reason alone, suppressing sneezing is not recommended.

You should stop your nose when sneezing either. This builds up pressure and presses nasal secretions into the sinuses.

Until now, it was a good practice to hold your hand over your mouth when sneezing. But not only since the outbreak of the corona pandemic some say that this does more harm than good, since viruses spread quickly through the hands. 

Its recommended do sneeze in clean paper handkerchief held in front of your mouth, or the crook of the arm should only be used as the second option.


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