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Reasons why Some People’s Sneeze Smells Horribly

Updated on December 14, 2016

Reasons why sneeze smells horribly


Reasons for bad smelling sneeze

Have you ever experienced a foul or bad smelling sneeze? Perhaps, you have; perhaps, you have not. In any case, a foul sneeze is just what it is, a sneeze that stinks or has a foul smell. For most people, the condition becomes a barrier to socialization; when they sneeze, all their friends run away from them because of the ensuing bad smell.

The sad part of a horribly smelling sneeze is that most of your friends will not tell you that your sneeze stinks, out of fear that their friendship with you will be severed as a result. Be so as it may, we all have few friends and close relatives who will tell it to our faces, in a nice way, of course. Having being told the truth, it becomes our responsibility to do something about it, so that our relationships with our loved ones aren’t severed as a result.

Causes of bad smelling sneeze

In this post I’ll discuss the causes of a bad smelling sneeze, and propose a few ways of treating the condition. Before we discuss the causes of bad smelling sneeze, let’s consider carefully what a sneeze is.

What is a sneeze?

A sneeze is an unintentional action that occurs when dirt or foreign substances enter into the lining of the nose area. Consequently, air is forcefully expelled from the lungs through the nose and mouth. This is a way of getting rid of the dirt or foreign material that is irritating the nasal lining. So why is there a bad smell after the forceful expulsion of air from the lungs through the nose and mouth? Let us find out the reasons of the horrible smell that follows when some people sneeze.

Why some people’s sneeze smells horribly

Sinus infection

A sinus infection can be the reason why your sneeze stinks. Sinuses are bony, air-filled spaces within your face and skull, which are named according to the bone of the body where they are found. For instance, there are four pairs of sinuses in the head and face: one in each of the check bones; a pair in between the eyes; another pair in the forehead, on top of the eyes; and another at the back of the head. These air-filled spaces, which connect to the nose, serve many purposes including lightening the weight of the head so that we can carry it on our neck with ease.

The sinuses are lined with several soft tissues, which keep the nose moist and eliminate certain viruses or bacteria, by secreting special fluids. When the sinus linings become swollen and sour, we say that they are infected. An infected sinus leads to a smelling sneeze because when the sinus lining becomes swollen, the bacterial cleansing fluid which it secretes becomes stale; the stale fluid begins to smell after some time; and this is why air from some people’s sneeze smells horribly.

Bad breath

Another cause of bad smelling sneeze is bad breath. In fact, bad breath is a major cause of smelling sneeze. Humans have fluid in their mouths, ninety-eight percent of which is water and two percent of which is mucus, antibacterial compounds and other enzymes. The fluid is known as saliva, and it performs many functions including: keeping the mouth moist and comfortable; helping to chew, taste and swallow food; and protecting the teeth and preventing gum disease.

Sometimes, when people don’t practice good oral hygiene such as brushing the teeth regularly and properly; leftover food produces bad smell and stinky saliva in their mouth. Stinky saliva produces bad breath. And since some of this stinky saliva comes out through the mouth and nose when you sneeze, the surrounding air begins to smell too. Therefore a bad breath causes a bad smelling sneeze.

Bad smelling sneeze can be a symptom of an underlying disease

Sometimes, a foul-smelling sneeze can be a symptom of an underlying disease such as diabetes, liver or kidney problems. Let’s take kidney problems as an example. The kidney is an organ in the body that’s responsible for expelling waste products from digestion, in the form of urine, from the body. With urea comes ammonia, a by-product of the breakdown of certain proteins in the body; which is why urine gets its repugnant smell from. If the kidney doesn’t function properly, your breath begins to smell of ammonia, the substance that comes with the production of urine. When you have a breath that smells like ammonia, it follows from our previous establishment that your sneeze will definitely smell of ammonia.

Some possible treatment options for bad smelling sneeze

There are some possible treatment options for a bad smelling sneeze. People whose sneeze smells horribly can try some of the treatment options below:

Avoid smoking

When it comes to curing a bad smelling sneeze, you definitely want to avoid any food or drink or practice that gives you bad breath. One of such practice is smoking. Smoking makes your breath smell like “something-is-burning”, which obviously is smelled when you sneeze.

Improve your oral hygiene

Another thing you want to avoid is poor oral hygiene. This includes everything from not brushing your teeth regularly and not flossing regularly to not visiting the dentist when you have gum infections or tooth ache. These are conditions that could make your saliva stinky, cause your breath to stink, and, in the end, cause your sneeze to stink also.

Avoid having dry mouth

Finally, you want to prevent a dry mouth. The human mouth has several saliva glands that produce saliva. Some of the glands are located at the base of the cheek and at the base of the front teeth. In any case, certain underlying factors such as pain and anxiety medicines can cause the saliva glands to produce little or no saliva. This creates a feeling of dryness in the mouth, causes your tongue and gums to become swollen and uncomfortable, and provides a perfect setting for germs to thrive. With germs and infections come bad mouth odors, which become evident when you sneeze.


When you notice that person’s sneeze smells horribly, then any of the above reasons could be the cause. You can in a polite way approach the person, and suggest any of the treatment options provided in this post.

If after the application of any of the above treatment options, and the condition still persist, then it is advisable that person’s with bad smelling sneeze visit their doctor to seek further assistance.

Foul smelling sneeze

A foul smelling sneeze can be embarrassing
A foul smelling sneeze can be embarrassing

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    • Enoch Kane profile imageAUTHOR

      Enoch Kane 

      23 months ago from Ghana

      You are welcome

    • SANJAY LAKHANPAL profile image

      Sanjay Sharma 

      23 months ago from Mandi (HP) India

      Thanks for sharing the wonderful information,


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