ZocdocAnswersWhat causes the body to sneeze?

Question

What causes the body to sneeze?

Why do we sneeze? I am trying to help my son who's a toddler and sometimes will sneeze 8 or 10 times in a row. His father is like that as well, and it just seems counterproductive. Is there a good way to cut off that body reflex so his sinuses don't get irritated?

Answer

Sneezing is one of the body's important reflexes. The doctors who will be able to discuss this issue with you in greater detail include your son's pediatrician. Sneezing is a very important reflex that the body uses to protect the lungs. When particles of dirt or other things in the air get into the nose or respiratory tract, small sensing hairs detect the invasion and trigger the sneeze, which expels the particles from the system. This keeps the particles from making their way into the lungs and causing damage or setting up an infection. In other words, sneezing is a desirable reflex most of the time and as it is entirely automatic it cannot be stopped anyway. Sometimes, sneezing can occur without the presence of airway particles if there are significant allergies, such as allergic rhinitis or seasonal allergies. Therefore the one thing you might want to do is rule out that your son has nasal allergies contributing to the sneezing. As always the diagnosis and the management of your son's particular concern will require a physical examination by your personal physician. Setting up an office visit with your son's pediatrician might be indicated.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.