Can Anything Help Bring On a Sneeze?

Looking at a bright light doesn't always work!

Q: Can anything help bring on a sneeze?

Oz says: Turns out, the old stare-at-a-light trick unlocks a sneeze for only about one-third of people: those who have a gene that triggers the reaction, says Marc I. Leavey, M.D., a primary care specialist at Lutherville Personal Physicians in Lutherville, MD.

When that stuck sneeze hits, it usually means your body is trying to clear an irritant from your nasal passages, so it's worth making an effort to bring it on.

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Try these alternatives when you desperately need the relief of a good achoo:

  • Massage the bridge of your nose, tickle the roof of your mouth with your tongue, or even try plucking an eyebrow hair. These actions can stimulate the trigeminal nerve—the facial nerve involved with sneezing.
  • Gently insert a rolled piece of tissue or a cotton swab into your nostril. A little gross (and requires privacy), but it's often effective.
  • Still no achoo? Try touching a cold surface, faking a sneeze, or tilting your head back. "These are a little fringy," says Leavey, "but they might work."

This story originally appeared in the March 2017 issue of Dr. Oz The Good Life.

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