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Sneezing - spinning bacteria at top speed
No matter whether it's viruses, bacteria, dust or pepper: What doesn't belong in the nose, the body wants to get rid of with a strong sneeze. That is why most of the typical colds and flu are accompanied by a runny nose and heavy sneezing. The droplets that are released into the environment contribute significantly to the spread of colds. Because the pathogens can travel on them until the next victim.
[W] wie Wissen used a special slow-motion camera to look at what exactly happens when you sneeze and how far the sneeze drops come.
Close your eyes as a protective reflex
First finding: when you sneeze you involuntarily close your eyes. Even with the greatest effort and concentration, you cannot keep it open. We still do not know why this is so. However, scientists suspect a protective reflex.
Second finding: a lot of phlegm is expelled. Up to a million droplets. Most are tiny, less than a hundredth of a millimeter. This makes them so light that they float in the air for minutes like a fine mist. However, there are also some really thick drops with a diameter of up to a millimeter. These drops fly like a thrown ball, so they fall back to earth in an arc.
When [W] like Wissen tried to sneeze, some of these droplets even flew over three meters. No wonder when you consider that they are thrown out of the nose and mouth at 100 km / h. If you do not want to be infected, you should therefore keep a safe distance of at least two meters from someone who is sick.
Nevertheless, it is healthy and sensible to sneeze, because this is the only way to get pathogens and other foreign bodies out of the nose. Because most typical colds begin on the nasal mucosa. And this is also where the sneeze reflex is triggered. For example, a foreign body on the mucous membrane. Then we take a deep breath, close the glottis and build up pressure in the lungs. The glottis opens suddenly and the air hisses through the mouth and nose, dragging foreign bodies and mucus with it.
Under no circumstances should you hold your nose, because otherwise the pathogens can be pressed into the paranasal sinuses towards the middle ear. Here they can then lead to inflammation. So it's best to let the nose do its cleaning job. In order to still protect your surroundings from the flying pathogens, you should sneeze into a paper tissue and then throw it away. If there is no handkerchief, under no circumstances sneeze into the palm of your hand. Because the next time you shake hands, the pathogen was passed on. It's better to sneeze into your sleeve or upper arm - even if it's actually against etiquette.
Author: Ulrich Grünewald (WDR)
Status: 09/17/2015 1:58 p.m.
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