What Causes Sneezing & How to Stop it?

What Causes Sneezing?

Sneezing is one of the ways by which the body gets rid of any irritants or allergens that might have infiltrated the nose or the throat. As annoying or embarrassing it may sound but Sneezing is an involuntary reaction to which we do not have any control. It is a spontaneous reaction of the body to get rid of allergens and irritants. Sneezing more often than not happens without any warning signs. In some cases you may feel a sneeze about to come on, especially when in dusty places but you are not able to prevent it from coming. Sneezing under any circumstances is not a cause for alarm and does not point to any underlying medical condition.

Now coming to the question of what causes sneezing, there may be numerous causes of sneezing ranging right from being in dirty or dusty places where irritants from the dirt might enter the nose and irritate the membranes in there to certain common medical conditions like the cold and the flu. Below mentioned are some of the common Causes of Sneezing.

What Causes Sneezing?

Sneezing Caused Due to Irritants from the Atmosphere: A function of the nose is to clear the air that you breathe in from any debris or foreign body and prevent it from entering the body. In majority of the cases, the nose traps all the dirt and bacteria thus preventing it from the entering the body but in some cases some of these irritants tend to enter the nose and irritate the sensitive membranes of the nose resulting in Sneezing.

Sneezing Caused Due to Allergens: You can have a bout of sneezing episodes after inhaling something which you are allergic to. If you are allergic to dust and end up at a dusty place, then you may have a continuous bout of sneezing episode due to the dust entering the nose and irritating the membranes.

Common Medical Conditions That Can Cause Sneezing: Some common medical conditions like a simple cold or the flu can also cause Sneezing. When you have a cold or the flu, there is a blockage of the nose and throat which is filled with mucous and when the membrane gets irritated there are repeated bouts of Sneezing.

Allergies as a Cause for Szeezing: This is yet another common Cause for Sneezing. Normally, the immune system of the body protects the body from any harmful invaders. In cases of allergies, the body’s immune system identifies even harmless organism as a potential threat to the body and tries to expel these organisms. This is done so in the form of sneezing.

Trauma: This is one of the less common causes for Sneezing but sometimes a blunt trauma to the nose can cause the membranes of the nose to get irritated and cause sneezing.

Sneezing Caused Due to Withdrawal from Certain Drugs: There are certain classes of drug which when weaned down can cause sneezing as a withdrawal symptom.

Breathing Cold Air: In colder temperatures, when you go out and breathe in cold air may also cause irritation of the mucous membranes of the nose resulting in Sneezing.

What are the Ways to Prevent Sneezing?

The best way to stop sneezing is to identify what causes it and avoid those triggers. Citing an example, if you have dust allergy and you tend to get sneezing episodes when in dusty places then either you avoid such places or if you cannot avoid it then wear a protective mask covering the nose and mouth so that dust is not able to enter and irritate the nose and cause you to sneeze. If you have an allergy to animal fur which causes you to get sneezing episodes and you have pets at home then it is recommended to routinely cut the pet’s hairs and make sure that there are no strands or tufts of hair present in the home.

The next step to stop sneezing is to identify and treat the underlying cause of sneezing. If you have sneezing due to an infection, then you need to consult with your treating provider or medications to treat the infection in order to stop sneezing. Your doctor may prescribe you certain medications like antihistamines which may prevent you from allergies and help to stop sneezing. The best medication used as of now is Claritin and Zyrtec to prevent allergies and to help to stop sneezing. When going out of country, your doctor may recommend you to get allergy shots before traveling so that you may not have to deal with allergies and frequent bouts of sneezing while abroad.

In case if a cold or the flu is the cause for sneezing then corticosteroid nasal sprays are recommended to calm down the inflammation and treat the block nose and stop the sneezing. You may also be given an antiviral to treat the infection causing you to sneeze. In order to get through the infection faster you need to take plenty of rest and have plenty of water so as to get rid of the infection and to stop Sneezing.

How to Stop Sneezing?

Sneezing is not a cause for concern as such but if it is bothersome then there are some simple home remedies and exercises that can help stop it.

Home Remedies to Stop Sneezing:

There are quite a few Home Remedies which are quite helpful in stopping sneezing. These Home remedies are:

Peppermint Oil: This is quite an Effective Home Remedy to stop Sneezing, especially if it is due to a stuffy nose. Peppermint oil has antibacterial properties in it that help relieve the stuffiness and get rid of sneezing. You need to boil some water and add four to five drops of Peppermint oil in it. Cover the head with a towel and breathe in the steam that comes out from the boiling water. Inhaling this steam will clear the nasal passage and stop the sneezing instantly.

Fennel Tea: This is yet another effective Home Remedy to stop Sneezing. Fennel has natural antibiotic and antiviral properties which has the capacity to fight any upper respiratory infection which includes sneezing. You need to boil a cup of water and add two teaspoons of crushed fennel seeds in it. Cover the pot and soak the seeds for about 15 minutes and pour the solution in a cup. Two cups of this tea daily is good enough to stop the frequency of sneezing alarmingly. Make sure to boil the water before adding the fennel seeds, as boiling the water after putting in the seeds will destroy all the properties of the seeds.

Black Pepper: This is also a good Home Remedy to stop sneezing. Mix half tablespoon of pepper powder in lukewarm water. Drink it two to three times a day. You can also gargle warm water mixed with black pepper powder and this will get rid of sneezing quickly.

Chamomile Tea: This is perhaps the best Home Remedy to stop sneezing, as it has excellent antihistamine properties which provide instant relief from sneezing. Add one teaspoon of dried chamomile flowers to one cup of boiling water and let the solution boil for a few minutes. One it is adequately boiled, you can drink this tea. You may even add some honey to it to improve its flavor. Drink this two to three times a day and your sneezing will disappear in no time.

Ginger: This is also one of the best Home Remedies for stopping sneezing. Take a couple of teaspoons of ginger extract at least two times a day. This will be enough to stop the sneezing. If are suffering from problems with sneezing at night, then you can cut the ginger root into thin slices and add them into a cup of water and boil it. Drink this tea before going to bed. This will instantly stop the sneezing at night.

Garlic: This is also a very effective and ancient Home Remedy to stop Sneezing, as it has natural antibiotic and antiviral properties. Crush four to five garlic cloves and make a fine paste and inhale the strong fragrance it gives. This will clear the nasal passages and thus stop sneezing.

Exercises to Help Stop Sneezing

Yes, there are certain yoga exercises which are quite easy to do and help a great deal with upper respiratory system infections to include sneezing. Some of the exercises that you can do to stop sneezing are:

Jala Neti: In this exercise, you need to take a glass of lukewarm water with a pinch of salt added to it and gently pour it into your left nostril. Now, tilt the head to the right side such that the water comes out through the right nostril allowing it to flow through the nasal cavity. Now repeat it with the right nostril. This exercise will clean the nasal passage and stop sneezing instantly. This exercise washes the mucus membrane of the nasal cavity and the sinuses and structures in the nose are thoroughly cleaned.

Kapalbhati: This is a type of breathing exercise which is quite helpful for treating various ailments including sneezing. This exercise is done in a sitting posture. It should be made sure that the steps to do this exercise are properly followed for best results. To do this exercise:

Sit straight with spine erect and cross your legs in front of you.

Take in a deep breath and breathe out quickly and suddenly. This will give out a sound of puffing. The focus should be more on exhalation than inhalation. When you exhale, try to bring in the abdominal muscles simultaneously. The abdomen should rise while inhaling and fold while exhaling.

Do this for about 10 breaths. Do this daily about two times for best results and you will see that you have gotten rid of Sneezing.

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:May 5, 2022

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