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You know that feeling when you totally think you’re going to sneeze and then… nothing happens. Besides being completely anticlimactic, it may leave you feeling both annoyed and anxious.
Take matters into your own hands with these tips and tricks to sneeze on demand:
A tissue can be useful before a sneeze!
Twist one side of a tissue into a point. Carefully put it into a nostril and “tickle” the inside of your nose by moving the tissue back and forth. For added impact, some suggest humming while wiggling the tissue.
This method stimulates the trigeminal nerve, aka the nerve that lets your brain know it’s time to sneeze.
Use some caution when doing this — you don’t want to stick the tissue too far up your nose!
Ever go outside on a sunny day and start sneezing? For some, bright light is all that’s needed to bring on a sneeze.
Known as photic sneezing or — more appropriately — ACHOO (autosomal dominant compulsive helio-ophthalmic outbursts), this hereditary sneeze-starting trait is found in roughly a third of the population.
If you’re one of the two-thirds of folks without this trait, then this likely isn’t the method for you.
Try suddenly looking at a bright light to make yourself sneeze. It can also help to close your eyes for a few seconds beforehand. To avoid damaging your eyes, always be sure to never look directly into any light source.
It’s no coincidence that pepper makes you sneeze. Spices irritate the nerve endings located in the mucous membrane inside your nose. When you inhale them, your nose’s reaction is to dispel them as quickly as possible. Hence, a sneeze.
Black, white, and green pepper are popular choices when trying to spice up your sneeze. You can also turn to other spices like cumin, coriander, or crushed red pepper.
Only inhale a little — too much and things can go from pleasantly spicy to painfully burning.
Get your sneeze on while getting your brows on fleek (wait… do the kids still say that?).
The nasal nerve runs across your eyebrows. Plucking an eyebrow hair can irritate your facial nerves and stimulate the nasal nerve, causing you to sneeze.
While this can happen right away, sometimes you may have to sacrifice a few extra hairs before a sneeze will occur.
We won’t lie: this one’ll hurt.
The inner lining of your nose is sensitive, and pulling out a nose hair is far from pleasant. However, it can stimulate the trigeminal nerve, which can then lead to a sneeze.
Our recommendation should you choose this option: Be gentle.
The trigeminal nerve runs along the roof of your mouth, so another great way to stimulate it is to massage the roof of your mouth with your tongue.
Simply run the tip of your tongue back and forth along the roof of your mouth. Be patient: That special sneeze spot varies by person, so you may have to play around a bit with where exactly to massage, how much pressure you should apply, and how much time it may take to trigger a sneeze.
You can also massage the bridge of your nose to trigger the trigeminal nerve (this can help drain fluid in your nose too!).
With your fingers, apply firm but gentle pressure in a downward motion to massage the bridge of your nose. Keep massaging until you feel a slight tickle in the back of your nose, which should cause a sneeze.
Practice makes perfect, so you may have to play around with this technique to get results.
Some people find that lightly squeezing or pinching the bridge of the nose may also help. Try doing this while humming to stimulate a sneeze.
Be sure to let go of your nose once you feel the sneeze starting. If you don’t let go, air can get trapped in your lungs or you could pop an eardrum — yikes!
A delicious way to potentially induce a sneeze is to nosh on dark chocolate that has a high percentage of cacao. This works best for those who aren’t regular eaters, but that shouldn’t deter the routine chocolate-lovers out there.
It’s unknown what causes this to happen (other than the universe wanting us to have nice, chocolatey things), which technically makes it a photic sneeze reflex. Scientists don’t think this is linked to allergies. One theory is that cocoa particles get into the nose and trigger a sneeze.
What’s cooler than being cool? Ice cold! Alright, so you don’t need it to be that cold to cause a sneeze, but a little cool air won’t hurt.
Cold air triggers the trigeminal nerve, as well as the lining of the nasal passages, which can brrrr-ing on a sneeze.
If it’s cold out, go outside and take a few deep breaths to stimulate the nerve and activate a sneeze. In the warmer months, try cranking up the A/C or opening the freezer and breathing in its cool air.
Ever get that tickly feeling in your nose while enjoying your fave carbonated drink? Thank carbon dioxide.
Too much CO2 can cause you to “achoo!” because your nose is more sensitive to carbon dioxide than your tongue is. The fizz in your pop is created by carbon dioxide, which irritates your nose and causes you to sneeze when you drink or inhale too much of your bubbly beverage.
Besides being popular in cartoons, using a feather to tickle the nose can stimulate a sneeze IRL.
Simply brush a faux feather under the nose and let the tickle take over. Be sure to avoid using a real feather and don’t put the feather in your nose (outer stimulation only!).
Certain scents can irritate your nose and make you sneeze, especially strong perfumes and colognes. Channel your inner bon vivant and spritz a strong fragrance into the air.
Don’t directly inhale the perfume particles and don’t ever, ever spray anything scented directly into your nose. Instead, let the scent waft to you and work its magic itself.
Double your pleasure or your fun and chew a minty gum or candy to make yourself sneeze. Much like spices, the strong mint flavor can irritate those sensitive nerves in your nose and trigger a sneeze in no time.
Sometimes something as simple as a little warm water can do the trick.
Fill a shallow bowl with warm water and dip your nose in. Breathe in a little of the water and then quickly tilt your head back. The water droplets in your nose should make you sneeze.
When all else fails… fake it. Oftentimes, faking a sneeze can force a real one to follow. Time to deliver that Oscar-worthy fake sneeze and let ‘er rip. Bravo!
No matter your reasoning, there may come a time when you just gotta make a sneeze happen. There are many tips and tricks to sneeze on command, and different methods will work for different people.
Figure out what works best for you, and be sure to be gentle to avoid any pain or damage.