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Sneezing

Throat anatomy

Definition

A sneeze is a sudden, forceful, uncontrolled burst of air through the nose and mouth.

Alternative Names

Sternutation

Causes

Sneezing is caused by irritation to the mucus membranes of the nose or throat. It can be very bothersome, but is rarely a sign of a serious problem.

Home Care

Avoiding exposure to the allergen is the best way to control sneezing caused by allergies.

Tips to reduce your exposure:

In some cases, you may need to move out of a home with a mold spore problem.

Sneezing that is not due to an allergy will disappear when the illness that is causing it is cured or treated.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your health care provider if sneezing is affecting your life and home remedies do not work.

What to Expect at Your Office Visit

Your health care provider will perform a physical exam and your nose and throat. You will be asked questions about your medical history and symptoms, such as:

In some cases, allergy testing may be needed to find the cause.

Your health care provider will suggest treatments and lifestyle changes for hay fever symptoms.

References

Bahls C. In the clinic: allergic rhinitis. Ann Intern Med. 2007;146(7):ITC4-1-ITC4-16.

Saleh HA, Durham SR. Perennial rhinitis. BMJ. 2007;335(7618):502-507.


Review Date: 6/17/2012
Reviewed By: Stuart I. Henochowicz, MD, FACP, Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine, Division of Allergy, Immunology, and Rheumatology, Georgetown University Medical School. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.