Sneezing (sternutation) is the act of expelling a sudden and uncontrollable burst of air through the nose and mouth. Sneezing can occur for a variety of reasons that have in common an irritation of the lining (mucous membranes) of the nose or throat. It is rarely a sign of a serious illness. Many environmental triggers can lead to sneezing, including air pollutants, pollen, dry air, and dust. Spicy foods can sometimes cause sneezing. Allergies, colds, and the flu are common causes of sneezing. Drug withdrawal, emotions, and certain medications are less common causes of sneezing. Some people may sneeze as a reaction to exposure to bright light (known as a photic sneeze reflex). Depending upon the reason for the sneezing, other symptoms can also occur, including
- burning, itchy, or watery eyes,
- nasal congestion or runny nose,
- sore throat,
- fever, and
Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.
Causes of Sneezing
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Other Causes of Sneezing
- Air Pollutants
- Cold Air
- Drug Withdrawal
- Exposure to Bright Light
- Spicy Foods
- Strong Emotions
- Viral Infection
Examples of Medications for Sneezing
- cetirizine, Zyrtec, Zyrtec Allergy, Zyrtec Hives
- diphenhydramine, Benadryl
- fexofenadine (Allegra, Mucinex Allergy)
- fexofenadine and pseudoephedrine, Allegra-D
- loratadine and pseudoephedrine (Alavert Allergy & Sinus, Claritin-D, Claritin-D 24 hour)
- loratadine, Claritin, Claritin RediTabs, Alavert, Claritin Hives Relief, Children's Claritin