What Causes Sneezing: 6 Best Habits to Carry

Sneezing is something that comes naturally to everyone, may it be an infant or an adult, a human or an animal. But do you know what causes sneezing?

Sneezing is the sudden and uncontrolled outburst of air through the nose and mouth. It is the most common way for the human body to remove foreign particles such as dust, smoke, pollution, bacteria, and many more. It keeps your body safe by clearing the bacteria and viruses from the nose.

But is this the only reason which causes sneezing? The answer will be no, as various reasons may cause sneezing. Here, we will talk about the most common reasons for sneezing. So, let’s get started!

What Causes Sneezing?

Why Do We Sneeze?

The nose, one of the human body’s five sense organs, does not just help to breathe, but its job also includes cleaning the air and ensuring it is free of bacteria and dust particles.

However, sometimes foreign particles might enter your nose and might irritate the soft and delicate hairs in your nose. Sneezing occurs when there is an irritation in the mucous membranes 1of the throat.

It sends a signal to the brain, and the brain responds to it by preparing itself to sneeze. It can be triggered by various reasons, which are explained below in detail.

1. Allergies

Seasonal allergies are one of the most common reasons for sneezing. In the case of an allergy, a sneeze is often triggered by common allergens (pollen, dust, mould, virus, bacteria). When these allergens enter your mouth, and you breathe through it, the immune system detects and attacks them.

Then, the immune cells release a chemical known as histamine and send the electric signal to the brain. The body reacts to histamine by the nose and throat becoming itchy and nasal passages swollen.

This is when your brain sends the signal to the muscles of the chest to contract, and then you sneeze.

Allergic Rhinitis2, also known as Hay Fever, is a very common condition defined as the body’s natural response to specific allergens.

The common symptoms are uncontrollable sneezing, itchy and watery eyes, and a red and runny nose. The common treatment of Allergic Rhinitis is to avoid triggers that may lead to an allergic reaction.

2. Common Cold or Flu

Cold or Flu?

Sneezing is often seen as one of the early symptoms of cold and flu. The symptoms of the common cold include a stuffy and runny nose, watery eyes, sore throat, coughing, fever, headache, and body aches.

When cold viruses interact with the mucous membranes, the immune system releases natural mediators, which cause blood vessels to dilate and release mucus. The release of mucus leads to irritation which causes sneezing, it will disappear when the cold is treated.

Sometimes, it is difficult to identify the cause of sneezing as an allergic reaction, and the colds might be confusing. However, you can always see a doctor and ask him for important medicine to treat colds, allergies, and coughing.

3. Infections

Sometimes, most people sneeze as a result of infections. Infections caused by viruses and bacteria 3play a vital role in making people sneeze.

4. Other Sneezing Triggers

People sneeze due to other sneezing triggers, including exposure to bright light, spicy foods, air pollution, dust, pollen, allergies, and dry air. Sometimes, medicine can also make you sneeze.

If you go out in the bright sunlight, you may tend to sneeze when looking at the sun. If you do this, you are not alone, this process is known as the photic sneeze reflex.

Plucking your eyebrows can also irritate mucous membranes, which leads to sneezing. Sometimes, exercise also acts as a trigger for sneezing.

Sneezing is not a disease, nor does it mean any severe problem, but if you are experiencing frequent sneezing, it would be better to consult a doctor as soon as possible and treat it.

How to Stop Sneezing?

How To Stop Sneezing and Runny Nose | Vicks

Sneezing is rarely a sign of a severe medical problem, but frequent sneezing can be irritating. So, here are some sneezing treatments to stop them.

If the cold and flu is the reason for your frequent sneezing, the best way to relieve sneezing is to treat them. Sneezing will disappear once the cold is treated. Hot water is very helpful in sneezing due to cold or flu. Take the hot water in a large bowl and inhale the scheme properly.

If the allergy is the reason for sneezing, it is advisable to stay away from the allergens. The most common allergen includes pollen, dust, peanuts, milk, dairy products, etc.

If you don’t know them, you can always visit a doctor and learn about them, You can also take precautions to protect yourself from allergies.

This includes ensuring furnace filters are clean, and using air filters that will reduce the amount of pollen in your surroundings. The most important thing is to wash your linen in hot water, which will help kill dust mites.

If you are allergic to pet dander, remove pets from your home or keep them in restricted areas instead of the whole house. Eucalyptus oil is very useful in sneezing due to allergic reactions.

Some home remedies help stop sneezing. Always wear sunglasses while going out in the sun if you sneeze when looking at the bright lights. A sneeze may also occur as a result of overeating so try not to overeat to prevent sneezing.

If you are about to sneeze, pinch your nose as if you are smelling something bad. One popular theory is to say something weird or funny to stop experiencing sneezing, an example may include pickles.

The other way to prevent yourself is to prevent yourself from environmental hazards such as pollution, dust, cement, wood, certain chemicals, and many more. Since spicy food is also one of the reasons for sneezing, it is advised to eat those only in specific amounts.

Frequent Sneezing: Is it a Sign of Any Disease?

Sneezing is a healthy habit that keeps our immune system strong and protects us against foreign particles. It is normal for an individual to sneeze at least 4 times a day, it can be resolved over some time or with some home remedies.

However, it would be time to visit a doctor if your symptoms do not improve over time and it starts affecting your life negatively or even when home remedies prove to be unsuccessful in stopping sneezing. It would be better to consult a doctor and seek medical treatment.

Practicing Healthy Sneezing Habits

The Do’s and Don'ts of Coughing, Sneezing, and Spitting

A single sneeze can release viruses and other germs into the air, which may lead to infectious diseases. The distance and the speed through which they travel might surprise you at once.

So, the next time someone sneezes around you, before blessing them, back away from them to prevent any disease. People who are sneezing can practice safer and healthier habits while sneezing.

It is always said that prevention is better than cure. So, why not follow the healthier steps to prevent diseases? Here are the following ways which are recommended to stop the spread of germs:

1. Keep a Handkerchief or Scarf

Whenever you tend to sneeze, always cover your mouth with a handkerchief or a tissue so that the germs will not be released into the air. After using the tissue, always throw it in a garbage bin.

If you don’t have a tissue or a scarf, sneeze into your upper sleeve. Always remember not to use your hands to cover your nose and mouth.

2. Wash Your Hands

You don’t even know how many things you have already touched or will be touching after sneezing. So, it’s better to wash your hands after sneezing. The best duration for washing your hands with soap is approx. 30 seconds.

3. Wear a Mask

You can also wear to mask to prevent the spread of germs. In case you are in hospital, it is always advisable to wear a mask. Masks can also prevent sneezing from air pollution.

Wearing masks does not ensure your safety completely but to a large extent. However, keeping your masks properly is also necessary as wearing them, and it is necessary to dispose of your disposable masks after using them.

If you are using a cloth mask, you must change them continuously and wash them properly. Maintaining your masks is also an important step in preventing the spread of germs.

sneezing
By Pavel Danilyuk/ Pexels

4. Carry a Sanitizer

Sometimes, it might be possible that you would not get soap and water to wash your hands. In such cases, it is advisable always to carry a sanitizer when you are suffering from a common cold your flu. Keep an alcohol-based sanitizer4 with yourself to prevent the spread of germs and viruses.

5. Wash Your Clothes

If possible, it is also advisable to take a bath and wear fresh clothes. If it is impossible, you can at least change into comfortable and fresh clothes to keep yourself safe from viruses and germs.

6. Practice social distancing

If you are experiencing a tendency to sneeze and you are in a crowded place, you may side yourself from the crowd and sneeze If you don’t have time to side yourself from the crowd, quickly grab a tissue or a handkerchief to cover your nose.

In case you are sick, you can avoid close contact with people to stop the spread of germs and infectious diseases.

It’s a common myth that when you sneeze with your eyes open, your eyeballs will pop out in your hands. However, it is only a myth, and it is not true. The human body’s natural reaction is to close its eyes while sneezing. However, some people sneeze with their eyes open.

Humans do not sneeze in their sleep, this is because the sneezing nerves also sleep when the human body sleeps. So, humans can’t sneeze in their sleep.

Interestingly, in various parts of India, it is believed that you sneeze whenever someone thinks of you. Your sneezing will automatically stop if you talk to them.

In some parts of the world, it is believed that a certain number of sneezes can lead to orgasms. In Poland, it is believed that if you sneeze only once, your mother-in-law is talking about you.

In some regions, it is believed that if a person sneezes in the evening, they will receive an invitation soon. If someone sneezes at night, it is a sign of meeting a friend. However, it does not have to do anything with the morning, day or night.

There is also a belief in some parts of the globe that if you sneeze once, someone is telling you nice things about you. If it happens twice, someone still talks about you but not nicely.

If you sneeze three times, someone is likely to fall in love with you, and four or more sneezes in a row indicate that a natural calamity will fall upon an individual or his whole family.

But alas, these are all myths!

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What causes sneezing a lot?

Sneezing repeatedly may indicate an infection or sensitivity to external irritants such as smoke or spicy foods.

2. Why do I sneeze so many times in a row?

Airborne triggers such as pollen are present in larger concentrations in the environment and can cause a sneezing fit.

3. Is sneezing good for you when sick?

Sneezing is an essential function of the immune system, assisting to ensure that we are healthy.

Bottomline: What Causes Sneezing?

Sneezing is just a temporary issue and a natural reflex of the body, and it is not connected to any of the myths given above. The only reason sneezing occurs is to supply fresh air to your lungs and keep them healthy from an allergy.

  1. Yan, Yicen, et al. “Consensus of Chinese experts on protection of skin and mucous membrane barrier for health‐care workers fighting against coronavirus disease 2019.” Dermatologic therapy 33.4 (2020): e13310. ↩︎
  2. Bousquet, Jean, et al. “Next-generation Allergic Rhinitis and Its Impact on Asthma (ARIA) guidelines for allergic rhinitis based on Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) and real-world evidence.” Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology 145.1 (2020): 70-80. ↩︎
  3. Bodor, Attila, et al. “Challenges of unculturable bacteria: environmental perspectives.” Reviews in Environmental Science and Bio/Technology 19 (2020): 1-22. ↩︎
  4. Saha, Tushar, Prakash Khadka, and Shyamal C. Das. “Alcohol-based hand sanitizer–composition, proper use and precautions.” Germs 11.3 (2021): 408. ↩︎

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