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There's a pressure point under your nose that, if you press it, temporarily stops the sneeze reflex. http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/AntiSneezeFinger

One of several places this is written about. Now, when I hear "pressure point", I immediately get vigilant. However, supposedly, this doesn't have to do with homeopathic Qi, but rather on a nerve transmitting the sneezing impulse.

This is my go-to method for preventing a sneeze. I'm curious whether it's simply due to the placebo effect, or if there is any truth to the explanations.

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    The placebo effect is a true effect. – gerrit Jun 17 '14 at 22:26
  • @gerrit Of course. However, my question is whether there is a physiological effect to support the claim. Maybe I should have clarified that better. – DarkLightA Jun 17 '14 at 22:32
  • @gerrit That is debated. See Placebo interventions for all clinical conditions. "We did not find that placebo interventions have important clinical effects in general. However, in certain settings placebo interventions can influence patient-reported outcomes, especially pain and nausea, though it is difficult to distinguish patient-reported effects of placebo from biased reporting." The placebo effect is better called "the effect in the placebo group". – user5582 Jun 17 '14 at 22:36
  • @gerrit See also: jnci.oxfordjournals.org/content/95/1/2.long. – user5582 Jun 17 '14 at 22:50
  • @gerrit Do you have a reference for that? – user5582 Jun 17 '14 at 23:47
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In this first comprehensive review of the sneeze reflex in the English literature, there is no mention of how a sneeze might be suppressed. [1]

The sneeze reflex

The sneezing reflex may be divided into two phases. The first is a nasal or sensitive phase, following stimulation of the nasal mucosa by chemical or physical irritants. Many distal branches of trigeminal nerve terminate in the facial skin transmitting tactile, pain and temperature sensations, while some branches distribute in the nasal mucosal epithelium [Nishino, 2000]. These branches are myelinated sensory fibers of small diameter, which terminate with receptor endings. Some of these receptors are triggered by chemical stimuli while others are sensitive to tactile and mechanical stimuli [Nishino, 2000]. Afferent neural stimuli are transmitted to the trigeminal ganglion via anterior ethmoidal, posterior nasal, infraorbital and ophthalmic branches of the trigeminal nerve [Wallois et al. 1991]. Through the trigeminal ganglion the stimuli reach the sneezing center in the lateral medulla [Suranyi, 2001]. Upon reaching a threshold, the second phase – the efferent or respiratory phase – begins once a critical number of inspiratory and expiratory neuron has been recruited [Batsel and Lines, 1975]. This consists of eye closing, deep inspiration, and then a forced expiration with initial closing of the glottis, and increasing intrapulmonary pressure. The sudden dilatation of the glottis gives rise to an explosive exit of air through the mouth and nose, washing out mucosal debris and irritants.

However, in addition to stimulation of the trigeminal nerve as documented above, there are other causes of sneezing as listed below:

  • Rhinitis

  • Photic sneeze reflex (ACHOO syndrome)

  • Physical stimulations of the trigeminal nerve

  • Central nervous system pathologies

  • Psychogenic (intractable) sneezing

  • Snatiation* reflex

  • Sexual ideation or orgasm

Thus to interrupt the sneeze reflex before it reaches its explosive conclusion, one can try interfering with the causes by:

  • closing your eyes to suppress the photic sneeze reflex

  • further stimulate the trigeminal nerve by pinching parts of your face

  • cease sexual activity

Good luck.


[1] Songu M, Cingi C. Sneeze reflex: facts and fiction. Ther Adv Respir Dis. 2009 Jun;3(3):131-41. doi: 10.1177/1753465809340571. PubMed PMID: 19617285. Medscape full text

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