Why can't I sneeze?
February 20, 2008 4:50 AM   Subscribe

When I have a cold, what causes the annoying twinge in my left nostril, that makes me want to sneeze even though I never manage to sneeze?

The sensation is a bit like a pinch, and a bit like a tickle. Almost like having a nose hair tugged, though a little further up inside my nose.

It makes me feel like I need to sneeze, but for the 2 worst days of the cold, I rarely DO sneeze. As I type this, having spent a day and a half on the verge of sneezing, it's easily the most profoundly annoying sensation imaginable.

I'd put it down to just another cold symptom, except it happens every time I get a cold, on days 3 and 4 (assuming a 7 day duration - I can time my colds by it,) and always only in the left nostril, which makes me think there's something distinct about what I'm feeling.

Does anyone know what I'm talking about, or how to address it?
posted by ParsonWreck to Health & Fitness (5 answers total)
I don't know about the twinging, but when I get a cold I immediately get out my neti pot to help with the congestion. That might help remove whatever is causing the twinge. Here's a link to an npr story about it:
posted by mcroft at 5:00 AM on February 20, 2008

I get the same thing.

I have hayfever and it's usually a precursor to worse symptioms (e.g. sneezing). In some ways I find it useful as a prompt to take my medication before it gets bad!

I agree thought it's quite a weird feeling. I get it almost exclusively on the left side too.

Perhaps we just have particularly sensitive noses ;)
posted by jon4009 at 5:12 AM on February 20, 2008

I had thought i was weird, unique, special until this thread. Usually a hayfever element. most annoying too. I found that gently rubbing the left nostril right above the muscle that you flare when you want to flare your nostrils calms it down, often taking away the feeling. I also found that hitting or pinching it (gently!) will induce a sneeze, providing almost sexual relief.
posted by xetere at 8:36 AM on February 20, 2008

Pretty sure almost everybody gets what I call "that sneezy feeling" during rhinovirus infection -- it's what the common cold's all about. And then, once you CAN sneeze, so satisfying.
posted by Rash at 11:05 AM on February 20, 2008

When I get that oh-so-close-to-a-sneeze tickle, I lightly pinch my nose halfway and hum loud. You can actually hum while exhaling through your nose, in order to really get those membranes vibrating. If that doesn't do it, looking up at a bright light to trigger the photic sneeze reflex will usually finish me off.

My girlfriend thinks I'm crazy.
posted by hydrophonic at 11:45 AM on February 20, 2008

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