Allergy

What to do when you can’t stop sneezing

Sneezing is a reaction to irritants and a way for the nose to get rid of germs. Nearly any particle can irritate the nose and cause a sneeze.

Common irritants include:

  • viruses or bacteria
  • dust
  • pollen
  • dander

All of these particles may trigger a sneeze. Sneezing is a partially controllable reaction to irritants. Therefore, it is possible to delay or even stop a sneeze before it occurs.

12 ways to stop sneezing

It may be possible to delay or stop sneezing naturally by:

1. Treating allergies

man about to sneeze
Irritants, such as pollen and dust, aggravate the nose and cause sneezing.

Treating allergies is a good way to prevent sneezing. Allergy sneezes often occur in clusters of two to three.

However, to treat the allergy, a person must first identify what allergens trigger the reaction. Once identified, a person might be able to avoid the allergen and prevent sneezing as a result of exposure to the allergen.

There may be times when it is impossible to avoid the allergen, however.

In these situations, people can control their reaction to the allergen by using over-the-counter medications that can help allergic reactions.

Popular types include:

  • antihistamine tablets or pills
  • glucocorticosteroid nasal sprays

Some people who experience more severe reactions may require prescription drugs or allergy shots to prevent or reduce the effects

2. Learning triggers

Different things may cause someone to sneeze. Some of these triggers may be easy to spot and avoid. Learning what causes sneezing can help people avoid it.

Triggers include:

  • dander
  • dust
  • spices, such as pepper
  • bright lights
  • spicy food
  • mold
  • pollen
  • cold virus
  • perfume
  • baking flour

3. Treating photic sneezing

Sneezing when looking at a bright light is called photic sneezing. The condition affects about a third of people worldwide, who are triggered to start sneezing by going outside on a bright day.

People with photic sneezing normally have a family history of the condition. They can prevent sneezing by not looking directly at bright lights and wearing sunglasses on sunny days.

4. Avoiding large meals

Some people sneeze following a meal where they feel particularly full. This reaction can be prevented by eating smaller portions and taking smaller bites. This phenomenon is not well understood.

5. Saying something weird

People claim saying a funny or weird word out loud just before sneezing can stop the sneeze from occurring. It is purely anecdotal.

The thought is that the action of verbalizing something interesting or unusual distracts the brain to prevent the sneeze. There is no research to back these claims.

6. Tickling the roof of the mouth

A person may be able to stifle a sneeze by stimulating the roof of the mouth with the tongue. Doing this for several seconds before sneezing may help prevent it from occurring.

7. Avoiding environmental hazards

Some people are in situations where they constantly come into contact with irritants in the air.

This may be due to an occupation, but a person may have hobbies or live in an area where irritants are regularly in the air.

Irritants may include:

  • cement
  • coal
  • chemicals
  • asbestos
  • grain or flour
  • metals
  • live poultry
  • wood (sawdust)

Many irritants are dangerous if people are exposed to them over time. Some may lead to cancer in the throat, mouth, or nose.

People should wear protective gear when in areas where these particles are present. Ventilation and dust prevention can help reduce exposure. Reducing exposure to these irritants will prevent complications.

8. Blowing the nose

People who are about to sneeze can try to blow their nose instead. This helps clear the irritant triggering the sneeze. As a person may blow their nose and then sneeze immediately after, this method is not always effective.

Keeping tissues nearby can help a person reach them in time to stop the sneeze.

9. Using at-home nasal sprays

Using a nasal spray to clear the sinuses might prevent a trigger from causing a sneeze. However, a prescription or over-the-counter nasal spray may not be required. There are some solutions that are easy to make at home.

One spray involves using capsaicin. Capsaicin gives chili peppers their spice. Using capsaicin in a nasal spray can desensitize the nasal tissue, which might make sneezing less frequent. It will also likely trigger a series of sneezes before the effect kicks in.

People wanting to try this method should proceed with caution and consult a doctor before trying it.

10. Pinching the nose

People can try pinching their nose at the first sign of a sneeze. A person can do this either by pinching the nostrils shut or pinching higher up on the nose closer to the eyes.

11. Increasing vitamin C intake

Vitamin C is an antihistamine and thought to boost the immune system. Vitamin C is in citrus fruits, certain vegetables, and as supplements. By increasing the amount of vitamin C in their diet, a person may potentially see a reduction in sneezing over time.

12. Drinking chamomile tea

Similarly to vitamin C, chamomile has anti-histamine effects. To help prevent sneezing, a person can drink a cup of chamomile tea daily to help reduce the total amount of histamine in the body.

Takeaway

a cup of chamomile tea with chamomile flowers
Drinking chamomile tea may help reduce sneezing.

It is not always possible to stop a sneeze. Many of the methods of stopping a sneeze involve finding ways to help prevent the reflex of sneezing in the first place. People may find success with one or more methods.

People may need to consult their doctor if sneezing is excessive. They should also talk to a medical professional before taking any supplements or taking any new substance into the body.

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