Double Take: Do I have to “bless” every sneeze?

Q: The woman next to me at work sneezes in sets of two, through-out the day.  When is the appropriate time to say “God bless you”?  Do I have to say it with every sneeze?

A single blessing to a serial sneezer is plenty.  Saying “God bless you” or “gesundheit” is a time-honored courtesy, but not a requirement; these phrases are simply a kind response to the (usually) mild annoyance caused by a sneeze.  My advice is to acknowledge this chronic ah-choo-er’s first sneeze duo of the day with a blessing and leave it at that.  There’s not a lot more you can do other than give her the name of a good allergist or offer her tissues when she runs out.


  1. Winifred Rosenburg

    I disagree. I think every sneeze series (not every sneeze) should be acknowledged unless you’re in an environment where talking would be inappropriate. Most people sneeze in sets of two so I usually wait for a second sneeze and then wait an extra second to make sure he or she is done and then say “Bless you.”

  2. Eileen

    In a work situation, I agree with the given advice – its disruptive for both you and the sneezer to have that exchange every time, especially if its very frequent.

  3. Sarah

    Or you could say nothing…I have allergies and happen to be atheist so I always feel very akward when someone says “Bless you.” Unless you are directly in conversation with someone I don’t think making comment on bodily functions is neccesary.

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