Posted by Jyoti Pal on December 20, 2008

London, United Kingdom, December 20: Next time when someone around you sneezes and you think that he has a cold, you might have got it all wrong. Strange as it may sound, but the person may be thinking of sex, suggests a new study.

The study suggests that this condition is caused when a person thinks of sex and the nervous system wrongly sends a message to the nose resulting in sneezing. The condition may be uncommon, but in all probability it is also largely underreported as the patient may be uncomfortable chatting about such an issue with the doctor.

Dr Mahmood Bhutta, an ENT specialist at John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, said: "It certainly seems odd, but I think this reflex demonstrates evolutionary relics in the wiring of a part of the nervous system called the autonomic nervous system."

He further explained, "This is the part beyond our control, and which controls things like our heart rate and the amount of light let in by our pupils. Sometimes the signals in this system get crossed, and I think this may be why some people sneeze when they think about sex."

Dr Bhutta initiated the study after one of his patients experienced irrepressible sneezing when he had a sexual thought. He and his team used internet chat rooms and were astounded when people anonymously confessed that they sneezed as and when they had a sexual thought.

In all, seventeen men and women admitted that they sneezed instantaneously after they had a sexual thought while three of them disclosed that they sneezed after an orgasm.

Dr Bhutta's team averred that the link of sexual thoughts and sneezing dates back to the 19th century where such a correlation was reported but "there was no credible reason given for the phenomenon."

The paper also illustrates a genetic base as to why one in four people sneeze in response to sunlight. The study has been published in the current issue of the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine.

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