WASHINGTON - Some sound like mortar fire, others like somebody just stepped on a mouse.
We each have our own individual sneezing style. But what, exactly, determines whether those sneezes come out dainty and demure or whether they blow down the entire house?
"Sneezes are like laughter," says Dr. Alan Hirsch, a neurologist, psychiatrist and founder of the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago. "Some [laughs] are loud, some are soft. And it's similar with sneezing. It will often be the same from youth onward in terms of what it sounds like."
Hirsch says he doesn't know of any studies that have been conducted on various sneezing styles and what they might mean, but says he does believe the way we sneeze reflects some component of the personality.
"It's more of a psychological thing and represents the underlying personality or character structure," he says.
A person who's demonstrative and outgoing, for instance, would most likely have a loud explosive sneeze, whereas someone who's shy might try to withhold their sneezes, resulting in more of a Minnie Mouse-type expulsion.
The shape of our nose or the bone structure of our face might contribute a small degree to certain sneezing styles much in the same way the resonance of our voice is affected by our anatomy, says Siegel. But "what we perceive as the sneezing sound is not really affected significantly by the nose structure."
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