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by Waverly Yang, The University of Texas at Austin College of Pharmacy, and Dr. Marc Goldstein, MD, Curist Medical Advisor. Updated September 2020.

Curist delivers FDA-approved medicines to your door at half the price of traditional brands. We hope everyone stays safe and healthy during this time.

Everyone sneezes. It’s completely natural! But sometimes, the sneezes just come one after another. What causes these sneezing fits, and how do you stop them?

What Can Trigger Uncontrollable Sneezing Fits?

The most likely culprit behind your sneezing fits is allergies. With seasonal allergies, airborne triggers, like pollen, are found in higher levels in the air and can start a sneezing fit. Besides seasonal allergies, allergens from pets and dust can also cause frequent sneezing. Sneezing caused by allergies is usually accompanied by other symptoms like congestion, itchy eyes, and a runny nose.

Besides Allergies, What Causes Sneezing Attacks?

Here are some other common causes of uncontrollable sneezing fits:

  • Cold or Sinus Infection: Infections can cause sneezing, in addition to other symptoms like cough, runny nose, fatigue, or even fever. To learn more about differentiating between allergies and a cold, check out our Colds vs. Allergies article.
  • Air Quality: Whether it’s indoors or outdoors, certain particles in the air can irritate your nose and cause sneezing. Airborne particles like dust, dirt, and smog can inflame your sinuses and trigger sneezing.
  • Dryness: When your sinuses are dry, they are more prone to irritation that may lead to sneezing. Dry climates and longer exposure to air conditioning can cause nasal dryness.
  • Nasal Sprays: Nasal sprays like Flonase (fluticasone) are often used to treat allergy symptoms, but one ironic side effect may be sneezing. Sneezes triggered by nasal sprays are typically accompanied by other side effects, like throat irritation and stinging in the nose. 

Why Do Allergies Cause Sneezing?

Sneezing is our body’s way of forcibly removing irritants and particles from our nasal passages. Harmful viruses and bacteria that travel through the air and into our nose will irritate nasal tissue on contact, triggering a sneeze and expelling them back out. For many of us, other harmless particles, like dust, pollen, and animal dander, can also trigger allergies in our nasal cavities and cause sneezing as a result of allergy-induced histamine release in the nasal membranes. 

How Do I Stop The Continuous, Uncontrollable Sneezing?

If your sneezing is caused by allergies, the best and quickest way to find relief is to use an antihistamine. Antihistamines can be used to treat allergy symptoms, but, if taken in advance, they can also help to prevent them. Besides antihistamines, nasal sprays can treat sneezing and allergies as well, but if you experience sneezing or nose/throat irritation immediately after use, consider using an oral antihistamine instead. Choosing an allergy medication often comes down to personal preference, but common antihistamines are:

  • Curist Allergy Relief (levocetirizine) - available here: similarly powerful to Zyrtec (cetirizine), but 94% of people do not experience drowsiness when taking levocetirizine
  • Zyrtec (cetirizine): powerful antihistamine that typically causes drowsiness more than most other newer second-generation antihistamines 
  • Allegra (fexofenadine): non-drowsy antihistamine, not recommended for kids under 12
  • Claritin (loratadine): non-drowsy antihistamine, but slower-acting than others

Brand

Ingredient

Fast-Acting

Drowsiness

Safe for Kids?

Curist Allergy Relief

levocetirizine 5 mg

✔ Yes 

✔ Does not cause drowsiness in most people

✔ safe for ages 6 and up

Zyrtec

cetirizine 10 mg

✔ Yes

✘ Some risk of drowsiness

✔ safe for ages 6 and up

Allegra

fexofenadine 180 mg

✘ No (takes 1-2 hours) 

✔ Does not cause drowsiness in most people

✘ not safe for kids under 12

Claritin

loratadine 10 mg

✘ No (takes 1-3 hours)

✔ Does not cause drowsiness in most people

✔ safe for ages 6 and up


To bring further relief while preventing future sneezing fits, it’s important to avoid potential triggers. If your sneezing may be caused by dryness, try using a humidifier indoors to combat the dry air. When the air quality is poor or there are higher levels of dust and pollen in the air, avoid keeping your windows open and wear a mask when going outdoors. For additional drug-free tips for beating allergies, check out Tips to Treat Allergies Without Medicine or learn more about pet-related allergies in the Curist Animal Lovers Allergy Guide.

If you don’t know which allergy medications to pick to address your sneezing and allergies, Curist offers a Two-Minute Allergy Quiz to help you select the best relief for your personal symptoms.

Treat Sneezing


Treat Sneezing

This content is for informational use only and does not replace professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It is not a substitute for and should not be relied upon for specific medical recommendations. Please talk with your doctor about any questions or concerns.