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Why Your Sneeze Smells Bad

Updated on December 15, 2015

Bad smelling sneeze

Does your sneeze smell bad? Have you ever wanted to know why your sneeze tends to have a foul odor? And do you want to stop your sneeze from smelling bad?

If you answered YES to all the questions above, then this article is just what you need. In this article we shall be taking a look at what a bad smelling sneeze is, what causes it, and the simple things that you can do to stop your sneezes from smelling bad.

What is a bad/foul smelling sneeze?

As the name implies, a bad smelling sneeze is the situation whereby when a person sneezes, the sneeze comes along with an unpleasant or foul odor that lingers in the air around the sneezer for a while.

It can really be an embarrassing situation when you sneeze and everyone near you has to cover their nose because your sneeze is stinking up the whole room.

While sneeze that comes with a foul odor might seem like a rare thing, believe me when I say it is a very common thing which many people suffer from. For some people it comes once in a while, but for others it can be an everyday affair. I used to work with a guy who suffered from a very severe case of foul smelling sneeze. Now, whenever this guy would sneeze, people would suddenly make excuses and leave his office simply because the extremely bad odor from his sneeze was unbearable. Once he told me that he was aware that whenever he sneezed there was a bad smell that accompanied it but he thought he was the only one who could smell it. Well, unfortunately for him, he wasn’t the only one who smelled the offensive odor from his sneeze. Whatever became of the guy I really don’t know since I don’t work with him anymore.

But I do know this – how severe and how often your sneeze stinks largely depends on what is causing it.

Let us now look at the causes of bad smelling sneeze.

What causes your sneeze to smell bad?

There are a couple of things that can make your sneeze to stink. Below are the most common reasons why people experience a bad smell after sneezing:

Bad breath causes a foul smelling sneeze

One of the biggest causes of a smelly sneeze is bad breath. As a matter of fact I think bad breath or halitosis is the most common reason why the average person experiences a foul smelling sneeze. How does bad breath cause a smelly sneeze? In order to understand how bad breath plays a role in stinking up your sneeze, let us first understand what happens when we sneeze. Whenever you sneeze, air and saliva are forced out of your nose and mouth. If you have bad breath or halitosis, your saliva is also going to have a very unpleasant odor. Now, during the process of sneezing, the very unpleasant smelling saliva is released from your mouth and nose resulting in that foul smell that comes along with your sneeze. The bottom line is that you have an extremely high chance of experiencing a smelly sneeze when you have bad breath. This is why I say bad breath is the most common reason the average person suffers from a bad smelling sneeze. Using myself as an example, I have noticed that whenever I wake up early in the morning with a morning breath and I sneeze, my sneeze is smelly. But after brushing my teeth and tongue, I don’t experience any foul odor when I sneeze. This is simply because after thoroughly brushing your teeth and cleaning your tongue, your bad breath goes away and your saliva is no longer smelly. This therefore means that you release fresh smelling saliva from your nose and mouth during the process of sneezing, and since fresh smelling saliva has no bad odor, your sneeze isn’t going to be smelly.

Remember that anything that gives you bad breath will end up causing you to suffer from a smelly sneeze whenever you sneeze.

Gum disease or gingivitis causes bad smelling sneeze

Gingivitis is the inflammation of the gum, and people who suffer from it also experience smelly sneezes. The reason why this happens is simply because gum disease commonly leads to foul-smelling breath, and foul-smelling breath in turn causes your sneeze to stink. The problem with the bad breath associated with gum disease is the fact that it doesn’t go away even after you have brushed your teeth. This therefore always leaves one who suffers from a gum disease with sneezes that constantly smell bad.

Sinus infection causes bad smelling sneeze

Another very common cause of a smelly sneeze is a sinus infection or sinusitis. When your sinuses are inflamed, then you are said to be suffering from a sinus infection. Sinus infection is a very common disease all over the world. According to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, in the United States alone, about 30 million adults suffer from a sinus infection every year. So how does a sinus infection lead to a smelly sneeze? The answers are simple. First of all, one of the common symptoms of sinus infection is bad breath. And we have all seen how bad breath causes a foul smelling sneeze. The second reason is the fact that whenever you have a sinus infection, your sinuses (the spaces in the bones of the head connected to the inside of the nose) are blocked and become filled with germs, fluid, bacteria, fungi, and viruses. The nasal passage therefore becomes heavily congested with stale fluid which often develops a very unpleasant smell. When a person, who is experiencing this problem, sneezes, some of the foul-smelling mucus or fluid is released from the nose resulting in a smelly sneeze. This is the reason why people who tend to suffer from sinus infections also tend to suffer a lot from smelly sneezes.

Allergies can also cause a smelly sneeze

People who suffer from allergies also tend to experience bad smelling sneeze more than those who don’t. The reason why this happens is simply because allergies often lead to sinusitis or sinus infection.

Remedies for bad smelling sneeze

Now that we have seen the most common causes of foul-smelling sneeze, let us now take a look at the things that you can do to prevent your sneeze from smelling bad.

Practice good oral hygiene in order to prevent bad breath

If your smelly sneeze is one that is caused by bad breath, then it is obvious that preventing bad breath can help you avoid the embarrassing problem of frequently experience a sneeze that stinks up the room. There are so many things that you can do to take care of your breath and make it smell fresh all the time. The most common ways to prevent bad breath include the following:

  • Brushing and flossing very often: It is advisable to brush your teeth at least two times every day, and floss at least once every day. When you do this, you massively reduce your chances of suffering from bad breath. In brushing your teeth, make sure to use toothpaste that contains fluoride.
  • Clean your tongue: It is important to clean your tongue very well whenever you are brushing your teeth. You can easily use a good tongue scraper or even your brush to scrape your tongue and keep it clean. When you frequently scrape your tongue, you remove the smelly bacteria, food debris, and dead cells that form a coat on your tongue and cause bad breath.
  • Rinse your mouth with a good mouthwash: Mouthwashes are very good in preventing bad breath since they not only keep your mouth fresh but they also get rid of odor causing bacteria from the mouth. There are so many great mouthwashes or oral rinses that can effectively do the job of keeping your mouth clean and free from bad odor. One of the best oral rinses out there is the oral rins from TheraBreath. I use it a lot and love how it quickly and effectively it works in eliminating and preventing bad breath.
  • Do not smoke: Smoking not only causes bad breath but it also is very bad for your health. It will easily give you cancer.

All in all, my advice to you is to practice a good oral hygiene and endeavor to visit your dentist’s office regularly. Doing this will save you from developing bad breath and gum disease.

Treat gingivitis or gum disease and get some relief from smelly sneeze

If your bad smelling sneeze is caused by gingivitis or gum disease, then it is imperative that you visit your dentist right away. In treating your gum disease, your dentist will give your teeth a thorough cleaning. Surgery can also be used to treat gingivitis. He can also prescribe some medications for you such as antibiotic mouthwashes and oral antibiotics. Last but not least, he will stress on how important practicing proper oral hygiene is for treating and preventing gum disease.

Treat you sinus infection and prevent foul-smelling sneezes

If your smelly sneeze is caused by a sinus infection, then the best thing that you can do for yourself is to visit an Ear, Throat, and Nose (ENT) specialist. These professionals have special training in managing and treating diseases of the ears, nose, nasal passage, and throat. When you visit the office of an ENT physician, he or she can prescribe some antibiotics that will help in the treatment of your sinus infection.


My advice to anyone suffering from a foul-smelling sneeze is to try the simple things mentioned in this article simply because they can easily give you the much needed solution for your smelly sneezes and save you from the embarrassing problems associated with it. Don’t let your smelly sneezes keep disgracing you. Take control of your life now!

Do you often experience a smelly sneeze?

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    • myvenn profile image

      myvenn 2 years ago from Ghana

      Yes they really do. And a lot of people unfortunately suffer from it.

    • sagolia profile image

      sagolia 2 years ago

      OMG I had no clue sneezes could smell bad! Very interesting read!