What is a sneeze?

It is an involuntary, sudden, forceful burst of air through the nose and mouth. It is also called “sternutation”. Sneezing is a defense mechanism whereby the body removes irritants from the nose. It can be very bothersome, but is generally not a sign of a serious problem.

Common causes


  • Dust
  • Mites from animals
  • Pollen
  • Mold

Virus infection

  • Common cold
  • Upper respiratory tract infection

Irritants to the nose

  • Powder
  • Smoke
  • Strong smell

What you should do? See your doctor if

  • It is accompanied by other cold-like symptoms, such as;
    • Headache
    • Stuffy nose
    • Chest congestion
  • You also have itchy eyes, trouble breathing or a rash accompanying the sneezing.
  • You also have a fever.

Some steps on self care

  • Get lots of rest Drink plenty of fluids.
  • Cold viruses are very contagious.
  • Wash hands more often. Cold viruses are passed through hand contact. If it is due to allergy, try to minimize contact with the substance you are allergic to and seek treatment
  • If you’re sneezing because you have a cold, try to limit contact with tissues or fingers that may have been exposed to the virus
  • There is treatment available in the form of tablets and nasal sprays.

Tips to reduce exposure to allergens

  • Avoid furry pets
  • Use air filters to reduce pollens or allergens in the air
  • Avoid smoking and smoke
  • Avoid contact with infected persons
  • Change or clean your air filters regularly
  • Clean carpets regularly (at least once a week)
  • Clean your house with a vacuum cleaner rather than using a broom


Starts with identifying the cause and eliminating them if possible. Antihistamines are the first line of therapy for allergic induced sneezing. Nasal steroid sprays may be helpful in more chronic conditions. Nasal decongestants may give temporary relief. However prolong usage may cause worsening of symptoms.


Last Reviewed : 28 August 2020
Writer : Dr. Nazrila Hairizan bt. Nasir
Accreditor : Dr. Wan Fadhilah bte. Wan Ismail
Reviewer : Dr. Nazhatussima bt. Suhaili