As the season of sniffles approaches, experts have studied the science behind the common cold – and found a sneeze travels at 100 mph.
GP Dr Roger Henderson has revealed the sticky ins-and-outs of sneezing, wheezing and other symptoms of the common cold – snot and all.
Sneezing is your body’s way of removing irritants from your nose or throat and is a powerful, involuntary expulsion of air, which typically leaves the body at speeds topping 100mph, and contains as many as 40,000 droplets.
Bacterial and viral infections which cause a cold are commonly spread with sneezing – the force of a sneeze can send around 100,000 germs up to 25ft from the nasal passage.
But Dr Henderson, who is working with decongestant oil brand Olbas, also revealed you can stop a sneeze in its tracks – by deep breathing, holding your breath while counting to ten, or gently pinching the bridge of the nose for several seconds.
And contrary to popular belief, it is in fact possible to sneeze with your eyes open.
Dr Henderson said: “The sneeze reflex involves the contraction of a number of different muscles and muscle groups throughout the body, typically including the eyelids.
“But the common belief that it is impossible to sneeze with one’s eyes open is inaccurate, although most of us do shut our eyes. Don’t worry, if they stay open nothing unusual happens!”
Dr Henderson also explained the feeling of a blocked nose is caused by the inflammation of nasal passages as the body’s immune system attempts to fight off the virus.
This inflammation alerts the immune cells to move to where the cold virus is, so they can physically destroy and mop up the virus particles.
As our body tackles the virus, the nasal blood vessels swell, producing thick nasal mucus that results in a blocked stuffy nose.
Dr Henderson said: “With winter fast approaching, many of us will find ourselves bunged up and congested as we come down with a common cold.
“Although a cold can pass quickly, typically in just five to ten days, a blocked nose is a major factor that contributes to us feeling under the weather.
“By helping to reduce the thickness of the nasal mucus, natural decongestants unblock nasal passages, allowing for easier breathing and symptomatic relief from the usual cold symptoms that can cause so much misery.
“Anyone can catch a cold – but the best ways to avoid it are washing your hands with warm water and soap, and not sharing towels or household items, like cups, with someone who has a cold.
“You should also avoid touching your eyes or nose in case you’ve come into contact with the virus – it can infect the body this way – and staying fit and healthy, including having good nutrition and enough sleep, can certainly help to decrease your chances.”
Olbas, the UK’s number one decongestant oil brand, is adding a new product to its cold fighting range – Olbas Nasal Spray, offering relief for blocked noses within just two minutes.
Olbas spokesman, Nikki Banwell added: “Fighting a cold and feeling congested with a blocked nose can be an inevitable part of the winter season.
“We are thrilled to have introduced a fast-acting natural formula nasal spray to our cold fighting range that not only works within two minutes, but also provides an immediate refreshing sensation.
“Olbas Nasal Spray is perfect to keep in a desk drawer, handbag or car glove box for quick and effective relief from a blocked nose while on-the-go.”