Is sneezing ever a symptom of a serious disease?

Inspired by this thread.

It’s common superstition to bless someone, or say “to health/your health/whatever” if someone sneezes in many cultures, the idea being you are saying you hope the person isn’t really sick.

But is there any serious illness that has sneezing as a symptom? I mean…colds can sometimes make you sneeze, and maybe a flu (personally I’ve never sneezed because I had a flu, but I’ve only had a couple, so…)

But is there anything more life threatening that that? Though I guess in “days of yore” a flu was much more serious than it is now, but still…is there anything else a sneeze can be a symptom of? (crazy ass House-esque theories notwithstanding.)

Corrected typo in thread title.

General Questions Moderator

If such a condition exists, it would surely have many other symptoms in addition to sneezing.

For example, the following two ‘serious’ diseases can have runny nose as a symptom, so I suppose sneezing may also be present. However, sneezing, if present, would almost certainly be ignored or overlooked given the existence of their other more ‘attention getting symptoms’.

Mycoplasma infection

Wegener’s Granulomatosis

The above two examples are just for illustrative purposes and were basically the first two that came into my head. I’m sure there are many more serious diseases and conditions where sneezing, or at least a runny nose, can occur.

Tumor on your brainstem is another possibility.

I had a test once that required IVP dye. They did the test and then I sat up and sneezed. The techs and the nurses got really anxious and asked how I felt. I told them my teeth hurt. I then started breaking out into hives and got the shakes. They put me on a gurney in a hallway for a while, and called someone to come pick me up.

So, sneezing can be a sign of an allergic reaction.

The CDC says “about 36,000 people died of seasonal flu-related causes each year, on average, during the 1990s in the United States.”

What’s going to be more serious than that?

I’d always been taught that it’s because sneezing is a symptom of bubonic plague, though I don’t know how accurate that is.

There was a popular idea that this version the nursery rhyme:

Ring a-ring o’ roses,
A pocketful of posies.
a-tishoo!, a-tishoo!.
We all fall down.

was about the plague. However the idea really doesn’t hold a great deal of water. This may be origin of the idea. Sneezing isn’t a symptom of the plague. Just about everything else is. Wikipedia has a good coverage:’_Roses


There’s Legionella

I’d say that is pretty serious.

Yes, but does Legionella infection cause sneezing (or a runny nose)?

I could have sworn it did, but I just double checked the CDC’s site and some books I have on the shelf and, um, no. It doesn’t cause sneezing - just coughs.

Oh well, I guess I didn’t answer the question in the OP did I? :smack: