Why do I sneeze a lot?

Dear Doctor,
I sneeze so often that I’m beginning to think that I have a problem. Also, my ear and throat itch right after I sneeze. I’ve been like this for as long as I can remember. What could be the problem? Stewart

Dear Stewart,

It seems that you are suffering from allergic rhinitis. A susceptible person can have a running of nose, sneezing, blocked nose, and etcetera, as symptoms due to exposure to certain substances to which his body is sensitive. House dust, pollens, fungal spores, animal fur, and perfumes are some of the common allergy producing substances. Along with sneezing, there is itching of the ears and throat as the inner linings also get inflamed along with that of nose. The symptoms recur whenever one is exposed to the offending substance.

At times, the partition between the two nostrils is slightly deviated (DNS), causing recurrent cold. Polyps are benign tumours, which if present in the nose, can lead to recurrent sneezing or other symptoms of cold. It can also be due to other tumours inside the nose. Use of alcohol, use of certain medications like beta blockers used for hypertension, pain killers like aspirin, ibuprofen, medicine used to treat Alzheimer’s, can cause sneezing as adverse effect.

Repeated sneezing causes discomfort and is messy. Apart from this, over time, it can cause congestion of the air sinuses of the skull, causing acute or chronic sinusitis. This manifests as throbbing headache over the affected site, which is aggravated by looking down.

Prevention lies in avoiding potential allergy causing substances. Steam inhalation is beneficial in providing symptomatic relief. Corticoid nasal sprays are available, inhalation of which helps in avoiding or minimising sneezing.


Dr Rachna Pande  is a specialist in internal medicine at Ruhengeri Hospital

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