split image of women sneezing

A woman reluctantly set the record for the longest sneezing fit ever after being struck with a case that lasted over two years.

Donna Griffiths (UK, born 1969) sneezed uncontrollably for an incredible 976 days.

The fit began on 26 July 1981 and it wasn’t until millions of sneezes later that she finally experienced her first sneeze-free day on 16 September 1983.

Sneezing is caused by irritation to the mucous membranes in the nose and throat, and while it’s pretty annoying, it’s rarely a sign of a serious medical problem.

a woman sneezing

When the membranes are irritated by something like pollen or dust, the chest muscles, diaphragm, abdominals, and vocal cords all team up with the muscles in the back of your throat to get rid of the irritant.

And while everyone sneezes differently – some louder than others and some multiple times in a row – no one in history has sneezed for as long as poor Donna.

A few years back in January 2020, Donna’s record was mentioned on British TV panel show QI, when comedian Jimmy Carr joked that she must have worked in a pepper factory.

She shared the clip on the Facebook page of her company Baobab Growth, writing: “Did you see QI Thursday?

“Donna Griffiths, as I was then, got a mention!”

She added: “Oh and Jimmy Carr I didn't work in a pepper factory!

“You can learn more about my sneezing in chapter two of my book They Said I Was Mad.”

On her website, Donna describes her book as “a walk through what should have been an average life, but wasn’t”.

a woman sat at a desk sneezing into a tissue

The internet offers many tips and tricks to prevent sneezes, with suggestions from pinching your nose and tickling the roof of your mouth with your tongue to more out-there suggestions like distracting your body by saying the word “pickles”.

Either way, whenever you next get an attack of the sneezes, we hope it doesn’t last as long as Donna’s did.

Although lucky for Donna, her sneezing fit was nowhere close to the record for the longest attack of hiccups, which lasted an unbelievable 68 years.

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