Last updated: June 17, 2022 at 10:57 am
Sneezing is just one of those things that come with being human. Some of us are lucky enough to sneeze quietly, but if you’re one of the many who sneezes sounds like a bullhorn.
We’re guessing you’re reading this because you’ve got the sniffles. Maybe you’re getting over a cold, or maybe an allergy season is starting to make your sinuses flare-up. Whatever the cause, we both know that it’s not fun.
The good news is that there are ways to make it a little less annoying – for you and everyone around you. Let’s explore the different techniques and tricks for sneezing quietly and effectively, so you can be out of your misery as soon as possible.
IN THIS ARTICLE
6 Ways to Sneeze More Quietly
If you’re in a quiet environment, such as a library or church, and feel a sneeze coming on, you may want to avoid disrupting those around you by stifling the sneeze. There are several ways to do this, but none are 100% effective.
The most important thing is to remember not to suppress a sneeze completely. This can cause serious health problems. If you’re worried about how loudly you sneeze, try one of these methods instead:
1. Make Sure You Don’t Have Any Food in Your Mouth
Before you even set out to stifle your sneeze, make sure that you don’t have any food in your mouth. It’s going to be hard enough trying to keep the noise down without having the additional stress of trying not to spray half-chewed food everywhere.
Sneezing while eating is a great way to accidentally inhale something into your lungs, which can lead to choking or other complications. It can also cause debris from the food in your mouth to fly around and hit other people at the table.
It sounds like common sense, but it’s an easy mistake to make if you’re unaware of how powerful a sneeze can be. The best way to avoid this is to chew and swallow all of your food before taking any precautions against sneezing.
2. Use Some Tissue to Muffle the Sound
The easiest way to muffle the sounds of a sneeze is simply by placing something soft against your face as you sneeze. This will absorb the sound and keep it from echoing, making it much quieter than if you didn’t block your face.
A small piece of tissue or even a clean handkerchief can help absorb some of the noise while still allowing you to sneeze freely. Just make sure the tissue is clean and slightly damp, as this may help eliminate most of the noise and prevent it from flying all over the room.
If you feel a sneeze coming on and you don’t have a tissue handy, use any soft fabric available, such as a scarf or piece of clothing. If you can’t find anything like that and need to muffle the sound immediately, try cupping your hands over your mouth and nose as tightly as possible.
3. Pretend to Cough as You Sneeze
A cough is a far quieter sound than a sneeze. While it might not stop the sneeze altogether, it will reduce the volume of your sneezes and make them more likely to go unnoticed by others.
To do this, pinch your nose shut as if you were going to prevent yourself from sneezing altogether (but not quite so tightly). As you try to suppress the initial tickle that signals an impending sneeze, concentrate on pretending to cough instead of the urge to let the sneeze out!
As you do this, press your tongue against the back of your front teeth and make a coughing sound. You’ll hear a quiet ‘huh’ coming out of your mouth. This is often all you need to relieve the feeling of needing to sneeze.
4. Clench Your Chest Muscle
Another way to make a sneeze quiet is to clench your upper chest muscles as you sneeze. This will help expel the air from your body silently, rather than letting it come out in one loud burst.
You can do this by imagining that you’re trying to lift your chest toward the sky, or by tensing the muscles in your chest for a few seconds. This will help silently expel the air from your body, which is a key part of keeping a sneeze from making a noise.
While you clench your chest muscles, tense your throat and jaw muscles as well. This will help keep air from escaping through your mouth as you sneeze.
Keep in mind that while this technique can reduce the amount of noise you make while sneezing, it will not eliminate the sound of a sneeze. This is because it is impossible to expel all the air from your body without making any noise, even if you do not pass air through your nose or mouth.
5. Pinch Your Nasal Bridge
Pinching your nose may not be the most convenient thing to do if you’re in public, but it’s an easy move and will prevent people from hearing you sneeze. To do this, simply pinch your nostrils closed with your thumb and index finger at the base of your nose when you feel a sneeze coming on.
First, pinch your nasal bridge. Wait until the point when you feel the need to sneeze coming on, and then locate the soft spot between your eyes and nose (your nasal bridge). Pinching that spot will cut off the passageway for air to escape when you sneeze, resulting in a much quieter sneeze. This is especially useful if you’re in a quiet place like a library or a church and don’t want to disturb other people with your sneezing!
You will still get the satisfaction of blowing out all those things bugging your nose – you’ll just be doing so quietly and politely.
Also read: How to Blow Your Nose Quietly: Step by Step
6. Take a Deep Breath
Take a deep breath. Breathe in slowly through your nose and fill your lungs with air. Close off one nostril. Press one finger or the tip of your thumb against one side of your nose, just below and between your nostrils.
Sneakily release air through the other nostril while keeping it as quiet as possible, and while making sure no mucus escapes into the open air, be that via exhaling or blowing out forcefully from either side of your nose.
The most important part is that you don’t exhale loudly or make a loud noise when you do sneeze. Your mouth should be always closed during this process to fully muffle the sound – otherwise, all hope would be lost for a silent sneeze! If it helps at all, imagine that there’s an assassin on the loose in the building with you and must not know where you are, so no noises can escape.
The more air pressure that builds up in your nose, the louder the sneeze will be when it comes out. If you take a deep breath before you sneeze and then release it slowly, you can keep the noise down by letting out excess air pressure. The NHS also have a good guide.
Do I Have to Sneeze?
We all know that sneezing can put a lot of stress on the body, lowering your heart rate and causing the blood vessels in your nose to dilate. But here’s something you probably didn’t know: Sneezing is a great way to clean our noses!
Your nose is filled with unwanted debris, germs, and other particles that can clog up your airways and make breathing difficult. Sneezing is nature’s way of getting rid of these things so you can breathe freely again.
Your body sneezes, in part, because it wants to clear your nasal passages of foreign debris. When you inhale foreign particles – like dust or pollen – your body’s natural reaction is to expel them as quickly as possible to protect you from illness and infection.
So, when you’re about to sneeze, this is what’s happening:
- The mucous membranes in your nose detect a particle, irritant, or allergen (like dust) and send a signal to your brain.
- Your brain sends out a message that says, “Uh-oh! I sense something up there!”
- Your chest muscles tighten up while your diaphragm contracts and relax several times rapidly (this is what causes the hiccup-like sound of sneezing).
- Air comes rushing past the vocal cords and out through your mouth and nose with an intense burst of force (upwards of 100 miles per hour!). This air is accompanied by particles, which are sent flying everywhere.
- Your eyes close involuntarily – a response that can be traced back to evolutionary instincts that protected our ancestors from getting dirt or debris in their eyes during a sneeze.
If we didn’t sneeze, that dust would stay trapped in our bodies and could cause us harm. Sneezing is a good thing! But sometimes it can be embarrassing or disruptive in public places.
This video explains it well:
So, there you have it, tips to help you sneeze quietly the next time you must fight the urge to let loose. But do remember that the best way to avoid a sneeze is to avoid whatever is making you sick.
So, if your allergies or cold become too much for you, it’s probably a good idea to see a doctor and get some medicine.