Why Are You Sneezing After Eating?

Sneezing is forced air from the lungs through the nose and mouth, which occurs when there is an irritation in the nasal cavity. People sneeze for many different reasons—exposure to dust, allergens, illness, and inhalation of certain substances, to name a few. Sometimes people sneeze after eating.

This article explains why some people sneeze after eating, its causes, and tips to prevent it.

Person sneezing after eating

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Causes of Sneezing After Eating

Sneezing after eating can occasionally occur for various reasons and is typically not a cause for concern. You may notice that you sneeze when you eat spicy or hot foods or after consuming a large meal. In some instances, sneezing after a meal could be unrelated to food and result from an illness or seasonal allergies.

Gustatory Rhinitis

Gustatory rhinitis is a food-associated runny nose (rhinorrhea) after ingestion of solid or liquid foods. Most of the time, spicy or hot foods are the culprit. Rhinitis is inflammation of the nasal cavity and can cause sneezing, itching, runny nose, and postnasal drip. These symptoms are called non-allergic rhinitis.

Snatiation Reflex

A combination of "satiation" and "sneeze," snatiation is a sneezing reflex when the stomach is full after a large meal. There isn't a significant amount of research in this area, but several cases have been confirmed.

Food Allergies

Food allergies are common, affecting around 8% of children in the United States. Food allergies occur when the immune system mistakenly reacts to a protein found in a specific food as if it were harmful. Symptoms and severity will differ from person to person and can change over time. Some people may experience itchiness, redness, watery eyes, and a runny nose. When the nose is irritated or inflamed, a person may sneeze.

The most common allergens include:

Other Causes 

Allergic rhinitis is associated with sneezing and itching. It is triggered by several factors, including dust, plants, pollen, pets, and mites. People who have seasonal allergies may be more inclined to sneeze after eating during allergy season.

Viruses and illnesses also cause sneezing. You could be sneezing after you eat when you are not feeling well, which will likely subside once you feel better.

Tips to Prevent It 

The best way to prevent sneezing after eating is to avoid offenders, such as spicy foods like hot pepper, foods you are allergic to, and large quantities of food. Keeping a food journal can help you identify the cause. Once you notice a pattern, you can eliminate the culprit and see if your symptoms improve.

If you have allergic rhinitis and cannot avoid triggers altogether, such as pollen, talk to your healthcare provider about allergy medication. If you continue to sneeze after you eat, you should be examined by a medical professional to rule out other causes.


Sneezing is a natural reflex caused when there is an irritant in the nasal cavity. Sometimes, people sneeze after eating, which can happen after ingesting spicy foods or a large meal. To prevent sneezing, first, you'll need to figure out why you are sneezing. Once you identify the culprits, avoid them. If that doesn't work, discuss your concerns with your healthcare provider.

A Word From Verywell

Occasionally, sneezing is no big deal after a meal and is not a health concern. You may notice you sneeze from time to time if you eat spicy foods or have seasonal allergies. Omitting offenders can help alleviate symptoms. However, if you find that your interventions do not help, discuss them with your healthcare provider.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Why does spicy food cause a runny nose?

    Spicy foods can cause a runny nose because they contain specific compounds, such as capsaicin, that create heat. Your nose compensates by making extra mucus.

  • Does sneezing after eating mean an allergy?

    If you sneeze regularly after eating, you should contact your healthcare provider to see if there is a medical reason for it. You could have an allergy, but it's hard to know without a workup from a healthcare provider.

  • Is there a treatment for sneezing after eating?

    The best way to avoid sneezing after eating is to avoid triggers. However, if you have allergies and notice that you sneeze more during allergy season, over-the-counter allergy medications may help you.

5 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Sur DKC, Plesa ML. Chronic nonallergic rhinitisAFP. 2018;98(3):171-176.

  2. Songu M, Cingi C. Sneeze reflex: facts and fiction. Therapeutic Advances in Respiratory Disease. 2009;3(3):131-141. doi:10.1177/1753465809340571

  3. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Food allergies.

  4. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Food allergies.

  5. O'Neill, Jessica et al. Unravelling the mystery of capsaicin: a tool to understand and treat pain. Pharmacological Reviews. 2012;64(4):939-71. doi:10.1124/pr.112.006163

By Barbie Cervoni MS, RD, CDCES, CDN
Barbie Cervoni MS, RD, CDCES, CDN, is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes care and education specialist.