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  • Dia Jaiswal

AH-CHOO!

One day, I was eating lunch and my grandfather sneezed. I was so startled by the volume of his sneeze, that I dropped my roti. This got me thinking. Why do older people sneeze so loudly? Was it something related to lung capacity and age? Or was it the fact that they just stopped caring about regulating the noise that they make?


Turns out it is a mix of a few factors. What separates dainty sneezers from the loud ones is a mixture of individual anatomy and personal control. Scientifically speaking, the longer you hold your breath the more dramatic the sneeze is. This implies that the shape and size of your nose affect the volume of your sneeze too. A bigger nose can take in bigger breaths.


Sociology also affects how you sneeze. Etiquette books have frowned upon poor nasal manners since the 15th century. Even today, women are told to behave in a certain manner in order to be approved by society. If you are a ‘lady’ you should not sneeze very loudly, but if you are a male it is not looked down upon. But, if a man sneezes loudly in Japan, it is considered to be rude. So you see, subconsciously, your gender and culture do affect how you sneeze.


Now you might wonder why am I so focused on older people sneezing. Frankly, it's because all the elders in my house sneeze loudly. Drop-the-roti-out-of-my-hand loud. As stated above, when you are surrounded by people you try to sneeze quietly, so as to appear polite. As you start edging into your 40s, your health takes precedence, you stop caring about politeness.


A sneeze usually reveals more about a person’s personality than it does their body type or health. A shy person tends to not draw attention to themselves. So it makes sense that their sneeze won’t make much noise. But the boisterous one will full on bellow it out and be proud of it.


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