Sneezing is your body’s way of removing irritants from your
nose or throat. A sneeze is a powerful, involuntary expulsion of air.
Sneezing often happens suddenly and without warning. Another name for sneezing
While this symptom can be quite annoying, it’s not usually
the result of any serious health problem.
What causes you to
Part of your nose’s job is to clean the air you breathe,
making sure it’s free of dirt and bacteria. In most cases, your nose traps this
dirt and bacteria in mucus. Your stomach then digests the mucus, which
neutralizes any potentially harmful invaders.
Sometimes, however, dirt and debris can enter your nose and
irritate the sensitive mucous membranes inside your nose and throat. When these
membranes become irritated, it causes you to sneeze.
Sneezing can be triggered by a variety of things, including:
- viruses, such as the common cold or flu
- nasal irritants
- inhalation of corticosteroids through a nasal
- drug withdrawal
are an extremely common condition caused by your body’s response to foreign
organisms. Under normal circumstances, your body’s immune system protects you
from harmful invaders such as disease-causing bacteria. If you have allergies,
your body’s immune system identifies typically harmless organisms as threats.
Allergies can cause you to sneeze when your body tries to expel these
Infections caused by viruses such as the common cold and flu can also make you
are more than 200
different viruses that can cause the common cold. However, most colds are
the result of the rhinovirus.
Less common causes
Other, less common causes of sneezing include:
to the nose
from certain drugs, such as opioid narcotics
irritants, including dust and pepper
Nasal sprays that have a corticosteroid in them reduce
inflammation in your nasal passages and decrease the frequency of sneezing.
People with allergies often use these sprays.
How to treat
sneezing at home
One of the best ways to keep from sneezing is to avoid
things that trigger you to sneeze. You can also make some simple changes in
your home to reduce irritants.
Change the filters on your furnace to keep your home’s
filtration system working properly. If you have pets that shed, you might
consider cutting their hair or removing them from the home if their fur bothers
you too much. You can kill dust mites on sheets and other linens by washing
them in hot water, or water over 130°F (54.4°C). You might also decide to purchase an air
filtration machine to clean the air in your home.
In extreme cases, you may need to get your home checked for
mold spores, which may be causing your sneezing. If mold infests your home, you
may need to move.
underlying causes of sneezing
If your sneezing is a result of allergies or an infection,
you and your doctor can work together to treat the cause and resolve your
If an allergy is the cause of your sneezing, your first step
will be to avoid known allergens. Your doctor will teach you how to recognize
these allergens, so you’ll know to stay away from them.
Over-the-counter and prescription medications called
antihistamines are also available to relieve your symptoms. Some of the
most common antiallergic medications are loratadine (Claritin)
If you have severe allergies, your doctor might recommend
that you receive allergy shots. Allergy shots contain the
extracts of purified allergens. Exposing your body to allergens in small,
regulated doses helps keep your body from reacting to allergens in the future.
If you have an infection, such as the common cold or flu,
your treatment options are more limited. Currently, no antibiotic is effective
in treating the viruses that cause colds and the flu. You can use a nasal spray
to relieve a congested or runny nose, or you can take an antiviral medication
to speed up your recovery time if you have the flu. You should get plenty of
rest and drink lots of fluids to help your body recover faster.