Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania found that our noses require a "reboot" when overwhelmed, and this biological reboot is triggered by the pressure force of a sneeze.
When a sneeze works properly, it resets the environment within nasal passages so "bad" particles breathed in through the nose can be trapped.
The sneeze is accomplished by biochemical signals that regulate the beating of cilia (microscopic hairs) on the cells that line our nasal cavities.
"While sinusitis rarely leads to death, it has a tremendous impact on quality of life, with the majority of symptoms coming from poor clearance of mucus," said Noam A Cohen from the university in a statement.
"By understanding the process by which patients with sinusitis do not clear mucus from their nose and sinuses, we can try to develop new strategies to compensate for their poor mucus clearance and improve their quality of life," Cohen said in a statement.
The research used cells from the noses of mice which were grown in incubators and measured how these cells cleared mucus. They examined how the cells responded to a simulated sneeze (puff of air) by analysing the cells' biochemical responses.
Some of the experiments were replicated in human sinus and nasal tissue removed from patients with and without sinusitis.
They found that cells from patients with sinusitis do not respond to sneezes in the same manner as cells obtained from patients who do not have sinusitis.
The researchers speculated that sinusitis patients sneeze more frequently because their sneezes fail to reset the nasal environment properly or are less efficient at doing so.
The study was published in FASEB journal.
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