Everyone sneezes. But how do you know whether your sneezing is caused by an allergy? It can happen when you least expect it, like when you’re plucking your eyebrows or when you step outdoors into sunlight. A sneeze can be brought on (or out!) when the nerves in your eyes are exposed to bright light.
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A runny or stuffy nose can also be a symptom of allergies. Allergic rhinitis, known as hay fever, is a term used to describe allergic reactions in the nose. Symptoms of hay fever can include sneezing, congestion and runny nose, as well as itching in your nose, eyes and/or the roof of your mouth.
Other allergy-related conditions can cause a runny or stuffy nose, as well as sneezing. These include:
- Sinus infection. There are two major forms of sinus infections (also called sinusitis): acute and chronic. Both acute and chronic sinus infections can be viral or bacterial. Some long-standing infections are fungal.
- Decongestant nasal spray overuse. Over-the-counter decongestant nasal sprays are commonly used to relieve nasal congestion from colds or allergies. But if you use them regularly for as little as three days, a rebound nasal congestion can occur. If you continue to use the spray, the rebound effect gets worse and worse, leading to almost chronic nasal blockage. Many times, people with this condition don’t realize that the spray is causing the problem.
- Nonallergic rhinitis. These are ailments that mimic some of the symptoms of hay fever, such as nasal congestion and postnasal drip, but are not caused by allergies. Different than nasal allergies, these nonallergic nasal problems usually appear in adulthood, don’t usually make your nose and eyes itch, don’t include sneezing and often occur year-round.