The Sneeze

Female nurse performs allergy skin testing or scratch test on African-America patient, Premier Allergy & Asthma in Columbus Ohio

Why Am I Sneezing So Much

April 25, 2024

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A human can move air at speeds around 100 mph…through their nose??

It’s true! When you sneeze, it can have some serious power behind it! We’re all familiar with the feeling of that tickle in your nose before the big release, but many people don’t know why we sneeze. Let’s talk about that today!

Caucasian woman sneezing with tissue in hands, Premier Allergy & Asthma inColumbus Ohio

Twotriggers for sneezing include 1) acute infections, both viral and bacterial,and 2) chronic conditions such as environmental or seasonal allergies. Sneezing from allergies can be veryannoying, especially during peak allergy season in the spring! Sufferers wantto enjoy the nicer weather and many play sports and increase outdoor activitiesduring this time, but their experience is often made miserable by allergysymptoms like sneezing.

Hand drawn image of yellow petals meant to symbolize pollen as an allergen, Premier Allergy & Asthma in Columbus Ohio

Let’s touch briefly on what a sneeze is. At a base level, it’s the simultaneous contraction of muscles in the face, chest and throat, resulting in a fast and often loud release from the nose and even mouth. We all know the familiar “Aaa-choo”! What motivates these muscles to contract is stimulation of the nasal mucosa from various irritants, causing the brain and nervous system to make you sneeze to try and get rid of the irritants in your nose.

So then, what classifies as an irritant? Why do some of us sneeze so much? Examples of irritants include having the flu or the common cold, being exposed to an excessive amount of dust or powdered materials, air pollution, spicy foods, some medicines like nasal sprays or corticosteroids, and even drug withdrawal or strong emotions!

One of the biggest known causes for sneezing, however, is allergies! Yes - allergic sneezing is one of the most common causes for sneezing fits or excessive daily sneezing. But how would you know if you are having allergy-induced sneezing?

First, timing is key! If sneezing increases like clockwork during particular seasons of the year, then you may have allergy-induced sneezing. Certain types of pollen increase in association with specific seasons: tree pollen in the Spring, grass pollen in the Summer, and weed pollen (like ragweed) in the Fall. If sneezing increases whenever you are around animals like cats and dogs, then that is a sign of pet dander allergen inducing your sneezing. Dust mites and mold spores can also trigger allergy-induced sneezing, as you are exposed to these when doing something like cleaning out the basement.

Second, seeing an allergy specialist, or allergist can help determine triggers of allergy- induced sneezing. Allergists can perform allergy skin testing, which is a method of diluting allergen triggers in a liquid, putting a small drop of that liquid on your skin (typically on the back), and using a small toothpick-like device to lightly scratch or prick the skin through the liquid. If the skin develops a large enough wheal (a raised, red, itchy bump) then you are likely allergic to that allergen. Many allergens can be skin tested at the same time with same-day results, including grass pollens, tree pollens, weed pollens, molds, dust mites and pet danders.

Once you identify allergen triggers, what can you do to makeallergen-induced sneezing better? Minimizing exposure to triggers is part ofmanaging allergy symptoms, including: monitoring pollen and mold counts,frequent vacuuming/cleaning, wearing a mask/goggles when cleaning or cuttingthe grass, removing pets from the bed/bedroom, washing hands after handlingpets, daily evening shower to flush off allergens that accumulate on your bodyso you don’t drag those allergens into bed with you, using dust-mite proofpillows/mattress covers, keeping relative humidity less than 50% to inhibitdust mite and mold growth, cleaning of air ducts and use of HEPA-quality airfilters in air conditioners. However, it is often impossible to avoid allergentriggers. Many sneezers will also try using over-the-counter allergymedications, including daily non-drowsy 24-hour antihistamines along with nasalsteroid sprays, and while these can provide relief in some people, often thesetreatments are “bandages on a wound that never heals,” with allergy-inducedsneezing being the wound.

At Premier Allergy & Asthma, we offer the strongesttreatment available for allergen-induced sneezing: allergen immunotherapy.Allergen immunotherapy injections, also known as “allergy shots,” are a way to“fight fire with fire” by injecting allergen triggers subcutaneously into thebody in order to teach and train the immune system to tolerate the allergens, aprocess known as desensitization.Immunotherapy can actually cure the “wound” of allergies instead of justslapping a temporary bandage on it. Many patients who go through immunotherapyexperience drastic allergy symptom relief and find they do not need to rely onthe “bandages” like over the counter (OTC)allergy pills and nasal sprays any longer.


You may also be wondering if we treat kids’ allergies too, andwe do! We treat children with allergies very frequently and arealways happy to see them learn how getting tested for allergies isn’t scary anddoesn’t hurt much. Then, if the child does have allergies, over the course ofour immunotherapy treatment course we get to see them feel better and better,without as many sneezes!

While sneezing is a very natural function for your body to have,we are currently entering spring allergy season with tree pollen being the mainculprit of the allergen-induced sneezing we mentioned earlier. If you notice asignificant increase in how much you’re sneezing and it seems to always beduring this time of year, you may be suffering from tree pollen allergies thatare very common for Springtime in Central Ohio! That excessive sneezing canhave a very negative effect on your overall quality of life and make it hard toenjoy things like time at the park with your kids, evening drinks with friendsor even just sitting on your patio trying to relax!


Be sure to come and see us at any of our 12 locations around Central Ohio! Ourmission is to get you feeling your best so you can get back to enjoying life toits fullest extent. Call us at 614-328-9927 or click here to schedule allergy testingonline, we will be so glad to see you at Premier Allergy & Asthma!