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Avatar universal

inability to sneeze

In 1997, I had a period of a month or more where I could not sneeze; I would have the urge to sneeze, build up to the sneeze, but it would not come out. Then, I went back to "normal" sneezing. Then several years later, I had the same thing again, for over a month, but again, went back to "normal" sneezing. Now, over two years since the last episode, I have been experiencing the same thing again, for around 6 weeks. I even caught a cold, but my sneezes would come on with the inhalation and the AH but would never complete themselves with the CHOO. I read somewhere that this could be a symptom of a tumor on the medulla. Wouldn't there be other symptoms in conjunction with just that one symptom? I have no other symptoms and am a healthy 28 year old female. What I am looking for is this: Is there some explanation you can give me as to what causes this or could this just be "normal?" It is very frustrating, but as long as it is nothing serious like a tumor, I could stop thinking about it. I know sneezing is a reflex, and supposedly, from what I have read, once it starts, my brain should just automatically finish the sneeze. Thank you for your time.
2 Responses
Avatar universal
You are correct in saying that if it was a problem in the medulla, there would be other symptoms - the medulla is a 'high real estate' area with lots of closely packed structures which cause neurological deficits when damaged. Strokes in the lateral medulla can abolish the sneeze reflex but in association with other signs of stroke such as clumsiness, weakness or sensoru loss, or inability to swallow

a reflex has both afferent (incoming to the nervous system)) and efferent (outgoing) components. An interuption can occur at any point, not necessarily in the brain, and block the final response. So, for instance the problem could be with your sensation of the insult that trigger the sneeze.

If other symptoms develop, then you should seek medical attention, and possibly an MRI of the brain
Avatar universal
I found your post interesting.  I also had a stange experience when I first started having neurological symptoms.  I could not WHISTLE for the life of me.  Funny, how you take ordinary little things like that for granted, until you somehow lose the ability to do them anymore.  I am now able to whistle but it took over a year for that function to return.  Makes you wonder what is going on with your brain to cause these things, such as weakness, numbness, pain, tingling, speech problems and yet nothing clinical shows up to explain it all.  
Sneezing is usually a reflex action to dust, pollutants, strong smells, like pepper, onions etc.  I would think that hyper reflexes or lack of refexes may be a subject for you to explore.
Best wishes.
The Canadian
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