Why do sneezes smell?

Since masks became a habit in our daily lives, most of us have become aware of the smells that come out of the mouth. Both sneezing and own breath have taken a new perspective, in which the smell takes great relevance.

Have you noticed a persistent odor after sneezing? If you have a foul-smelling sneeze, you may be wondering where the stench is and if it is normal.

Causes of smelling sneezes

Sneezing is a sudden expulsion of air probably due to an irritant or irritation in the nasal cavity. These irritants are usually allergens (such as pollen or dust), environmental pollutants, or germs such as a virus. In other words, things that your body wants to eliminate.

These expelled particles are often the source of the sneeze smell. So if you feel a puff of pollen after sneezing, it’s probably because the annoying airborne allergen got into your nose. The smell of your sneeze can also mimic the smell of your breath.

Water, mucus, and air rush out of the nose with incredible force, carrying tiny germs, which can spread illnesses like the flu; hence they teach us to cover our mouths every time we sneeze. Most of the time they are totally harmless and just a natural means of cleaning or “resetting” our noses. But there are times when a slight stench follows, so it might be time to verify the origin of the smell and its meaning.

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Types of smell in sneezes

In principle, a random stinky sneeze is not a cause for concern. Some scents, like the ones listed below, can indicate certain health problems if they occur frequently. If you have been experiencing this situation regularly, see a doctor so they can perform a proper health assessment and help you determine what is happening.

However, it is interesting to know the different aromas to try to find out if it is something normal and if we can correct it at home.

Sweet smell

If the sneeze smells sweet like honey, the smell could mean elevated ketone levels . This can happen when you are on the ketogenic diet, but it can also be a sign of something more serious, such as diabetic ketoacidosis.

Ketoacidosis is a dangerous diabetes-related complication that occurs when the body cannot produce enough insulin, resulting in a build-up of ketones in the bloodstream. Other symptoms of diabetic ketoacidosis are:

  • Fruity-scented breath
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Excessive thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach ache
  • Fatigue

Sneezing with a sour smell

If it smells sour it can be related to smelly saliva and bad breath. Sour smell can be a sign of tooth-related problems or gum disease . Plaque has a distinctive sour smell, so exposed roots and bad teeth carry the same scents. And when we sneeze, that smelly saliva is expelled.

If your sneeze smells sour, make an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible. This may be the first sign of a more serious underlying problem that should be remedied as soon as possible.

The absence of cavities is synonymous with oral health, worse gum conditions can also occur, such as accumulation of tartar, dental plaque, inflammation and bleeding that produce a bad smell and taste in the mouth. It must be taken into account that the nose is part of the orofacial complex and that if a sinusitis is present, it will have a bad taste and odor in the mouth.

Sneezes that smell bad

When your sneeze has a putrid stench, it is probably due to a sinus infection . A sinus infection, also called sinusitis, occurs when fluid builds up in the sinuses, allowing pesky pathogens to grow.

Symptoms of sinusitis include postnasal drip and bad breath, which, as we know, can affect the way a sneeze smells. And while sinusitis is a common culprit for badly scented sneezes, any infection in the mouth or nose can cause a bad odor. Go to the doctor to find out if you really have an infection, because it is likely that you will need antibiotics to cure it.

Ammonia smell

Sneezing that gives off an ammonia scent or a hint of urine should make you worry. This is probably related to kidney problems . When you have a kidney problem, ammonia is not excreted efficiently and therefore there is a build-up of exhaled ammonia.

Think about whether your sneeze actually smells like ammonia to see if it’s a red flag. It can also be due to being sick with the flu or being in ketosis while on a keto diet. Some intermittent fasting can even cause this unwanted side effect.

How to avoid a bad smell in sneezing?

There are some possible treatment options to reduce its appearance or eliminate it permanently. If you are a smoker, specialists recommend quitting smoking to prevent any substance from generating breath.

It is also important to have good oral hygiene . This includes everything from brushing your teeth regularly to flossing to going to the dentist twice a year. Otherwise, bad habits can make your saliva stinky, make your breath smell, and ultimately make your sneeze stinky.

It is also advised to avoid having a dry mouth . The human mouth has several glands that produce saliva, which are present at the base of the cheek and front teeth. Some factors, such as pain and anxiety medications, can cause the saliva glands to make little or no fluid. This creates a feeling of dryness in the mouth, makes the tongue and gums swell. In turn, this provides a perfect environment for germs to thrive and infections cause bad odors from the mouth.