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Allergies

Why do I sneeze 10-15 times continuously?

05/13/2008

Question:

I sneeze 10-15 consecutive times, maybe two or three times per week. I do not think I have an allergy. I am 77 yrs.

Answer:

Sneezing is a nerve reflex, somewhat like a knee-jerk, the purpose of which is to clear the nose of unwanted material. Sneezing, while commonly associated with allergy and infections such as colds, can also be brought on by a number of other stimuli that activate the nerves of the nose. Cold dry air, red pepper, nicotine, smoke, aerosol sprays and strong chemicals or fragrances can sometimes trigger sneezing. The number of sneezes can sometime be correlated with the amount of nasal irritation that is occurring and it is not uncommon to have a series of sneezes.

There are a number of normal nasal reflexes that occur. Skin exposure to rapid temperature changes can trigger sneezes. Sudden exposure to bright light can also trigger sneezing in susceptible individuals. Non-allergic nasal congestion is common and can be as the result of medications, strong irritants or foods that cause vasodilation, such as alcoholic beverages. Allergies are a common cause and can occur at any age. I would suggest an evaluation by an allergist who can assess both allergic and non-allergic causes of sneezing.

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Response by:

Charity C Fox, MD Charity C Fox, MD
Clinical Associate Professor of Pulmonary, Allergy, Critical Care & Sleep
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University