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How to Prevent Sneezing

“Gesundheit,” “Bless You,” and “Salud” are just some of the traditional responses you may receive if you let out a sneeze in public. The custom of wishing someone ‘good health’ after a sneeze is unknown, but an assortment of pretty interesting theories (such as preventing the soul from escaping the body) surround its existence. The good news – some of the causes behind the sneeze are preventable once you get to the bottom of what is causing you to react in this manner.

How to Prevent Sneezing

What is Sneezing?

A sneeze (or for the more technical – ‘sternutation’) is a natural reflex that serves the same purpose as a cough – removing toxins, foreign bodies, and irritants from the body – primarily involving the nose [1]. The reaction is often described as ‘violent,’ ‘sudden,’ and ‘involuntary.’ As a result, nasal secretions consisting of more than 6,000 droplets are propelled up to 10 feet.

Have you ever wondered why a sneeze is so powerful? While we tend to associate the nose and mouth with the execution of sneeze, the process actually involves a great deal of other organs found in the upper body that creates a response in the muscle found in the chest, throat, and face.

While a sneeze does a body good during periods of sickness and for the need to clear unwanted irritants – if a virus or bacteria are the culprits behind this perfectly normal defense mechanism – infection is spread. This means, steering clear of a sneezer during flu season is highly recommended. You should also never underestimate the distance that nasal secretions can travel with the help of a sneeze.

While sneezing usually serves as a symptom for something much greater that the body is battling – it is often accompanied by an itchy nose, nasal blockage, loss of smell, dizziness, sore throat, ringing in the ears, frontal eye pain, headaches, body aches, nausea, and a “nasally” voice. There are also four different types of sneezing an individual may encounter, which are classified into the following categories:

a) Paroxysmal:

Bacterial, viral, or fungal infections cause this type of sneezing, which usually emerges at the start of a disease.

b) Continuous or Allergic:

A body may show a tendency to react to the constant exposure of a specific substance or item, such as dust, pollen, or domesticated animals.

c) Seasonal:

The pollens of grass, weeds, and trees present on the ground that take to the air on a seasonal basis can cause one to suffer seasonal allergic rhinitis.’ Sneezing worsens when a high level of pollen is found in the wind.

d) Perennial:

Throughout the year, an individual may sneeze without end due to high amounts of local pollution or allergens in the air.

Causes of Sneezing

Did you know that if a hair in your nose is plucked out – the body typically responds with a sneeze? However, this is a rather rare cause for the majority of sneezers in the world. When it comes to pinpointing the major causes, it is often an infection, hereditary, or an assortment of external and internal factors that play an influential role. Typical causes include:

a) Infection:

Sneezing is a common symptom of bacterial infections, viruses (such as the common cold or flu), and fungus (like aspergillus’s infection, which primarily attacks the lungs). When coming in contact with an infected individual, you will increase your chances of developing the same condition. This is especially true for children, who are easy targets for contracting the cold virus while playing with other schoolchildren and touching infected toys.

b) Irritants:

Cleaning a dusty attic or entering a smoke-filled nightclub can create some of the circumstances that bring about sneezing. Common irritants also include pesticides, insecticides, wood dust, cotton dust, and strong smells (like the scent of burning food or use of cleaning agents).

c) Animal Contact:

If you are allergic to animals and their by-products – sneezing is a common reaction. Dogs and cats top the list, followed by birds who spread their allergens with every flap of their wings. The dander and mites of cats and the furry shedding of dogs are also known to wreak havoc.

d) Environmental Changes:

Cold water, the scent of a rainy day, sand swept up in the air, and fluctuations in dampness and temperature can cause sneezing to occur.

e) Family Tree:

Sneezing has also been known to pass down from generation to generation with allergic dermatitis and asthma heading the main causes.

f) Food:

An increase in preservatives and artificial coloring found in the foods of today has created a greater amount of people who may exhibit an immediate sneezing reaction. There are also certain foods that bring about such a response, including the hot flavor of chillies. Watermelon, cucumber, fish, meat, and eggs are also associated with induced sneezing [2]. Black pepper additionally carries a reputation for causing people to sneeze. Most often, children are affected when eating these foods.

g) Drugs:

If a patient displays hypersensitivity to certain drugs and medications – they can sneeze due to an allergic reaction.

h) Disease:

Conditions that affect the nose and ears can cause sneezing, such as a deviated nasal septum, nasal polyp, sinusitis, otitis media, and an impacted cerumen.

Sneezing that occurs in the springtime or at the end of summer is usually a consequence of pollen allergies. Doctors will prescribe medication accordingly after a clinical examination of the nose, throat, and ears to confirm or deny the presence of a foreign substance or deformity.

If sneezing persists – a physician may order x-rays of the para nasal sinuses to rule out sinusitis. The presence of bacteria and eosinophils are detected through assessment of nasal discharge under a microscopic. Abnormalities in the structure of the nose and other surrounding regions can cause bouts of sneezing, where a CT scan, MRI examination, or a rhinoscopy could help with diagnosis and evaluation. Other tests include a nasal smear, blood tests, and allergy skin testing.

Negative Effects of Sneezing

Sneezing not only causes discomfort for an individual, but can also place those that he or she comes in contact with in danger, as the act can spread infection. Other negative effects include:

· Drowsiness, sleepiness, red eyes, fatigue, lack of concentration, and disrupted sleep.
· The worsening of pre-existing conditions, such as asthma, sinusitis, tonsillitis, and otitis media.
· Continuous pressure in the abdomen increases during sneezing, sometimes leading to the development of a hernia in the diaphragm or other parts of the stomach.
· Watery nose – which also causes headaches and sinusitis.
· The urge to ‘snuff’ – leading to the inhalation of air or phlegm into the nose.
· Tinnitus – weakened perception of sound.
· Reduced high-frequency hearing.
· Extreme consequences, such as the rupturing of an ear drum.

How to Prevent Sneezing

Every individual at some point in his or her life will sneeze with a frequency much greater seen in people who suffer inflammations linked to dermatitis or asthma. If you have been previously diagnosed with an allergy, kicked a drug habit, experienced corticosteroid inhalation, or faced ongoing exposure to nasal irritants – you are most likely to encounter increased risk factors [3]. While the above causes are uncontrollable, there are plenty of prevention methods that can ease sneezing, such as:

a) Limit Contact with Infected Individuals:

To avoid the infections that cause sneezing, make sure to avoid family, friends, and co-workers who have exhibited the signs of sickness.

b) Avoid Smoke:

An individual can prevent an attack of sneezing by avoiding restaurants, bars, and other public places that allow smoking – a common trigger. If you are a smoker, it is recommended to end this practice for less sneezing and an overall better bill of health.

c) Work Environment:

It is suggested to seriously reconsider your place of employment if it is causing you to sneeze. Usually, work areas located close to polluted air or noxious fumes are major causes for sneezing. If finding new work is not possible – start wearing a dust mask for your protection.

d) Pet Alert:

Find good homes for pets that you have developed an allergy for and resist the temptation to pet animals that pose a known threat.

e) Cold Winds:

When in the cold, make sure to bundle up and cover the nose and mouth when braving chilly winds.

f) Avoid High-Pollen Count Locations:

Whether you’re working on the job or enjoying an early morning workout – stay out of pollen-rich locations to prevent sneezing.

g) Medication:

Avoid taking drugs that are known to cause an allergy and concentrate on medications that prevent sneezing, such as antihistamines like Clarinex, Claritin, Zyrtec, Allegra, and Phenergan.

h) Drink Fluids:

To prevent sneezing during sickness, you can drink plenty of fluids (especially fruit juices and water) as a way to loosen up the build up of mucous that can cause nasal reactions.

i) Keep A Clean Home:

Common areas of the home that tend to collect dust, pet dander, and other irritants require frequent cleaning. Make it a habit to clean air filters often; tend to damp places to decrease molds and dust mites; routinely run the vacuum cleaner over your carpets; and limit the amount of sweeping or dusting you do when cleaning the rest of your home. Also – you should clean pillows, blankets, rugs, bedspreads, and mattresses on a weekly basis.


[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sneeze
[2] http://chennaionline.com/health/Homoeopathy/2004/10homoeopathy14.asp
[3] http://www.medicalook.com/Allergies/Sneezing.html

2 Responses to “How to Prevent Sneezing”

  1. hina
    August 25, 2010 at 6:41 am #

    i think ts good to avoid unusual smells like sharp perfumes petrol diesel or many more.
    they effect in a second.its my personal experience.

  2. Shawna C
    October 12, 2010 at 2:47 am #

    Deep breathings during morning and evenings for at least 10-12 times each time helps to prevent sneezing.

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