Home » News » Newsletters » Employee Health and Wellness Newsletters » 4J Benefits and Wellness Newsletter – April 2017 – Issue 295

4J Benefits and Wellness Newsletter – April 2017 – Issue 295

Screen shot 2013-10-15 at 3.13.40 PM

Prepared by Julie Wenzl • 541-790-7682 • wenzl@4j.lane.edu • April 6, 2017 • Issue Number 295


OEBB will end all current medical, vision, and dental plans effective September 30, 2017. Therefore, members who wish to have medical, vision, and dental coverage for the October 1, 2017 – September 30, 2018, plan year will be required to log into the MyOEBB system during open enrollment in order to register for that coverage. The mandatory OEBB open enrollment period will begin August 15, 2017, and will remain open through September 15, 2017.

You will receive updated and detailed information as it is available – watch for updates in this newsletter, on the 4J website, in your e-mail inbox, and via US Mail over the summer. As always, OEBB will send information about plan designs and offerings, but rate information and other details specific to 4J employees will come from 4J.


If you are a licensed employee hired for this school year only and your hire date was before November 1, 2016, your insurance benefits will run through August. Benefits also run through August for employees planning to take an unpaid leave from 4J or who will not be returning next school year (for reasons other than retirement). The final 2016-17 paycheck will be at the end of July. If you currently have a monthly insurance premium withheld from your paycheck, please remember that you can make arrangements to have your August premium spread out over your June and July paychecks or to have it withheld from your July paycheck (in addition to your regular July premium deduction). This allows you to pay for your benefits with pre-tax dollars.

To make this arrangement, send an e-mail to the Employee Benefits Office (4j_benefits@ 4j.lane.edu). This e-mail must be sent by May 26, 2017 in order to meet the payroll deadline. There is not a form to fill out, but you must express your wishes in writing to get this set up. Please indicate whether you wish to have your August premium spread over your June and July paychecks or withheld from just the July paycheck.

If you are retiring at the end of this school year, please refer to your copy of your Licensed Retirement Agreement, which has details about your retiree insurance elections and rates.

If you have any questions, please let me know. You can reach me by phone (541-790-7682) or e-mail (wenzl@4j.lane.edu).


We all sneeze, especially when we have allergies or a cold. And though some sneezes are brief and barely perceptible, others are distinct enough to leave a lasting impression. We’ve all heard an ear-piercing sneeze, the sneeze that sounds like a loud bark, or someone who never sneezes just once, but in a cluster of 5, 10, or more. The Editors from the UC Berkeley Wellness Letter and the School of Public Health have some facts about why we sneeze, what happens when we do, and whether a big enough sneeze can be dangerous.

What does sneezing do for us?  Sneezing is a reflex that protects us from irritants or foreign particles that might otherwise get into our lungs. When you sneeze, it’s because sensory receptors in the nose are activated by a pollutant. This could be an allergen such as pollen or dust, or other particles. The activated receptors then send signals to the brain, specifically the brain stem. The sneeze expels mucus along with the irritants.

Can you get injured by a forceful sneeze?  There have been reports of sneezing causing physical problems. For example, Major League baseball player Sammy Sosa sprained his back after sneezing violently, and, as a result, missed a month of games. Other injuries that have reportedly resulted from sneezing especially forcefully, or from holding back a sneeze, include stroke, miscarriage, car accidents, broken blood vessels in the white of the eye, retinal detachment, and fainting—but most of these are quite rare.

Can sneezing rupture an eardrum?  By keeping your mouth shut and pinching your nose to stifle a sneeze, you increase the risk that you could cause damage because of the buildup of pressure against the eardrum. There have also been rare reports of hearing loss and vertigo from suppressing a sneeze.

Why do some people sneeze much louder than others?  The strength, sound, and volume of a sneeze have to do with many factors, including anatomical and physiological differences among people, such as the strength of abdominal muscles, lung volume, and size of the windpipe or trachea, as well as the amount of air inhaled and whether most of the sneeze is expelled through the mouth or the nose (the mouth is louder). Interestingly, one survey found that many people report they sneeze differently in private vs. in public.

Why do we close our eyes when we sneeze?  It’s really a blink and it’s part of the many coordinated movements that are part of the involuntary reflex of sneezing. It’s also theorized that the eyes blinking or briefly closing is a biological adaptation—a way to shield them from whatever irritants are being expelled during the sneeze.

Why do some people sneeze two or three times in a row?  It may depend on what it takes to clear the nose of contaminants as well as individual variations in the sneeze reflex. In one lab study, researchers found that nasal cells from people with sinusitis didn’t respond to a sneeze in the same way as those of healthy people. It’s possible that sneezing doesn’t completely clear the nasal passage in people with sinusitis, which in theory might lead them to sneeze multiple times.

Is it true that some people can’t stop sneezing?  Yes, there have been reports of extended bouts of sneezing. There was a case of a young girl who sneezed more than 200 times in 20 minutes, and a teen boy who sneezed three to six times a minute for more than a month. According to Guinness World Records, the longest sneezing fit ever recorded was a 12-year-old girl who sneezed about a million times over a year and only stopped sneezing after more than 2.5 years.

When you sneeze, how fast and how far are the particles propelled?  The velocity can vary based on the size of the body frame of the person sneezing. Some reports clock a sneeze as hurling particles at up to 100 mph. Others, however, suggest it’s considerably less. A small study in PLOS ONE (a peer-reviewed open access scientific journal) showed the maximal velocity may be 10 mph. The distance particles can be propelled could be as far as 20 or so feet, depending on factors that include the weight and size of the expelled particles.

Can we control whether we sneeze?  Yes. Sneezing is a respiratory reflex that consists of two parts: the first involves something irritating sensory receptors in the nose. The second involves inhaling deeply, closing or blinking your eyes, then exhaling explosively. You may be able to stop the reflex during the first part by, for example, putting a finger under your nose, but once you inhale, there’s no turning back.

Why do some people sneeze when they look at a bright light?  Genetics determines the “photic sneeze reflex,” also known as sun sneezing or the “ACHOO syndrome” (autosomal-dominant compelling helio-ophthalmic outburst). The tendency runs in families and may affect up to 35 percent of people. Scientists attribute it to a crossover of nerve signals such that when bright light stimulates the eye’s optic nerve, it also stimulates the nerve responsible for the sneeze reflex.

Is it true your heart stops when you sneeze?  Despite popular belief, your heart does not stop when you sneeze. This myth may have its origins with people feeling that their heart “skipped a beat” when they sneezed. That occurs because of changes in the internal pressure in the chest cavity, which can, in turn, alter heart rhythm.


OEBB offers a number of scientifically proven health-promoting activities at no cost to qualifying members. These programs offer a range of options, including depression management, tobacco cessation, diabetes prevention, and team-based wellness. To find the full list of programs and see if there is a program that aligns with your personal wellness goal, please visit: http://www.oregon.gov/oha/OEBB/Pages/Wellness-Resources.aspx


The information in this newsletter has been summarized. It is presented as information – not advice or counsel. In all instances, the benefits, conditions, and limitations as outlined in the 4J Master Contracts prevail over this representation. Please refer to your Benefits booklet or master contracts available at the District offices for additional information regarding your benefits plans.

This entry was posted in Employee Health and Wellness Newsletters. Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.