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Sneezing is an involuntary reflex action that help you throw irritates out of your nasal passages.

It is your natural defence mechanism to expel dirt, dust or other particles from the your nose and throat.

Your sneeze can also cause other airborne particles, such as viruses and bacteria, to spread, so it’s important to practice good hygiene by covering your mouth and nose when you sneeze.


What is Sneezing?

Sneezing, also known as sternutation, is an involuntary reflex that expels air from the lungs through the mouth and nose, usually in response to irritation in the nasal passages.

This rapid expulsion of air helps to remove irritants and clear the nasal passages, providing relief as well as maintaining respiratory health.


Why Do We Sneeze?

The primary purpose of sneezing is to expel unwanted substances from your nasal cavity and maintain proper airflow.

The sneezing process begins when sensory nerves, specifically the trigeminal nerve, in the nasal mucosa are activated. The nasal mucosa is the moist lining within the nasal cavity, responsible for producing mucus that helps protect and moisturise the nasal passages.

These nerves send signals to the brain, which then triggers a coordinated response involving various muscles. The diaphragm, chest and throat muscles contract, while the soft palate and uvula move to direct air through the nose.

Finally, the muscles around the eyes may also contract, causing them to close involuntarily during the sneeze.


Is it Good to Sneeze?

Yes indeed, as it is a vital part of your immune function.

It is an essential mechanism for maintaining your airways free of irritates. It helps you to:

  • Remove irritants and allergens from your nasal passages
  • Prevent mucus buildup and potential infections
  • Expel foreign particles and microorganisms

Symptoms of Sneezing

Sneezing is often accompanied by other symptoms that can vary depending on the underlying cause.

  • Sudden, uncontrollable expulsion of air through the nose and mouth
  • Tingling or irritation in the nose before sneezing
  • Watery, itchy, or burning eyes accompanying the sneezing
  • Nasal congestion or runny nose
  • Sinus pressure or headache associated with the sneezing
  • Certain stimuli, such as bright lights, cold air, or certain foods

Recognizing these common symptoms of sneezing can help individuals identify the potential causes and seek appropriate treatment or remedies to find relief.


Most Common Causes/Triggers of Sneezing

Sneezing can be triggered by various factors, such as:

  • Allergies are a big reason for sneezing – things like pollen, dust, pet hair, or chemicals irritate the nose and make you sneeze a bunch.
  • Temperature changes or humidity can trigger sneezes too. Your nose doesn’t like it when things get too hot, cold, dry, or damp.
  • Certain foods like spicy dishes or cold drinks can also set off that sneeze reflex in your nose and throat.
  • Being sick with a cold, sinus infection, or other illness often leads to lots of sneezing as well. Your nose gets all irritated.
  • Smoke, strong smells, bright lights – even little irritants like that can sometimes make you sneeze unexpectedly.
  • Hormone changes during pregnancy or menopause seem to increase sneezing for some people too.
  • Suddenly stopping medications or using nose sprays with steroids for too long can also disrupt your nose and cause excess sneezing.

Finding what’s bugging your nose is key to stopping all that sneezing!


Home Remedies for Sneezing

Keep in mind that home remedies may provide temporary relief, but it’s essential to consult with your doctor if your sneezing is persistent, severe or accompanied by other symptoms.

Here is a list of home remedies that may help alleviate your sneezing:

Steam Inhalation 

Inhale steam from a bowl of hot water or use a humidifier to help clear nasal congestion and soothe irritated nasal passages.

Saline Nasal Spray

Use a saline nasal spray or make your own saline solution to flush out irritants and reduce inflammation in the nasal passages.

Herbal Teas

Drink warm herbal teas, such as chamomile, ginger or peppermint, which may help soothe the throat and reduce sneezing.

Honey

Consume a teaspoon of honey or mix it with warm water or tea to soothe the throat and potentially reduce sneezing caused by allergies.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is a natural antihistamine. Increase your intake of vitamin C-rich foods, like oranges, strawberries and bell peppers, to boost your immune system and help reduce sneezing from colds or allergies.

Quercetin

Add foods rich in quercetin, like apples, onions and dark berries, to your diet. Quercetin is a natural antihistamine that may help reduce sneezing due to allergies.

Eucalyptus Oil

Inhale eucalyptus oil by adding a few drops to a diffuser or a bowl of hot water. Eucalyptus oil has anti-inflammatory and decongestant properties that may help reduce your sneeze.

Eat Fish

Tuna, salmon and mackerel contain inflammation-reducing Omega-3 fatty acids. Consuming two servings of fish weekly may help reduce allergic rhinitis.

Hydration

Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and maintain healthy mucus production in the nasal passages.

Maintain a Clean Environment

Regularly clean your home, especially bedding and carpets, to minimise exposure to allergens and irritants that can trigger a sneeze.

Avoid Allergens

Identify and avoid exposure to allergens, such as pollen or pet dander, that may cause you to sneeze.


Medications for Your Sneeze

These following medications can help alleviate your sneezing, particularly when it’s related to allergies or colds.

Always consult with your before starting any medication.

Antihistamines

These medications counteract the effects of histamine, a substance released during an allergic reaction that can cause sneezing.

  • Diphenhydramine (Benadryl)
  • Loratadine (Claritin)
  • Cetirizine (Zyrtec)
  • Fexofenadine (Allegra)

Decongestants

These drugs help reduce nasal congestion, which can contribute to sneezing.

  • Pseudoephedrine (Sudafed)
  • Phenylephrine (Neo-Synephrine, Sudafed PE)

Nasal Corticosteroids

These are anti-inflammatory sprays that can help reduce inflammation and sneezing caused by allergies.

  • Fluticasone (Flonase)
  • Mometasone (Nasonex)
  • Budesonide (Rhinocort)
  • Triamcinolone (Nasacort)

Leukotriene Receptor Antagonists

These medications block the action of leukotrienes, chemicals that contribute to inflammation and allergy symptoms.

  • Montelukast (Singulair)

Mast Cell Stabilisers

These medications help prevent the release of histamine and other chemicals that cause allergy symptoms.

  • Cromolyn sodium (NasalCrom)

Combination Medications

Some medications combine an antihistamine with a decongestant for multi-symptom relief.

  • Loratadine/pseudoephedrine (Claritin-D)
  • Fexofenadine/pseudoephedrine (Allegra-D)

Consult your doctor to determine the most appropriate medication for your specific needs and to discuss any potential side effects or interactions with other medications you may be taking.


What to Do When You Sneeze?

To minimise the spread of germs when sneezing, follow these simple tips:

  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your elbow
  • Dispose of used tissues immediately and wash your hands
  • If a tissue is unavailable, sneeze into the crook of your elbow
  • Avoid touching your face to prevent the spread of germs
  • Remember to wash your hands after you sneeze, if you used them to cover your face

FAQs

1. When should I see a doctor for sneezing?

If you can’t stop sneezing really badly, or if you also have trouble breathing, a high fever, or severe pain along with the sneezing, it’s a good idea to go see a doctor.

2. Why can’t I stop sneezing over and over? 

Sneezing fits that won’t stop can be caused by things irritating your nose, allergies, or other medical issues. Finding and dealing with whatever’s triggering it can help. Nasal sprays or allergy meds might make the sneezing better too.

3. Why Am I Sneezing so Much All of out of nowhere? 

If you suddenly start sneezing way more than usual, it’s probably because of seasonal allergies from things like pollen, mold, or pet dander in the air irritating your nose and making you sneeze.

4. Is It Normal to Sneeze Every Day?

It’s normal for everyone to sneeze once in a while when dust or something gets in their nose. But if you’re sneezing a whole lot every single day, it might mean you have allergies or another condition causing all that sneezing.


Summary

Sneezing is an important defence mechanism of the body which helps prevent irritants from entering the respiratory system.

However, some individuals may be more sensitive to these irritants than others, leading to excessive sneezing.

Fortunately, sneezing is rarely a sign of a serious medical condition and can be managed with lifestyle changes and techniques to minimise it.


 

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Sources: Healthline (1, 2), Medical News Today, WebMD (1, 2), Merck Manuals, Medline Plus, CDC.