Sniffling And Snorting

by admin on July 14, 2014

I’m utterly baffled by the experience I had this morning.

I have sinus issues that manifest mostly in the winter and spring. They can cause me to sniffle – there is not much I can do, it’s not loud, but I sound congested when I breathe, like I have a stuffed nose. Blowing my nose makes little to no difference – the problem is higher up. Medication provides temporary relief.

I was on the train this morning in an empty carriage when a well-dressed, senior citizen got on and sat opposite me. I paid little attention – I was quickly re-reading an article I had to submit that morning on my phone.

A few minutes after we left the station, she piped up. “Excuse me!” she said brightly, in a friendly, tone. “Do you have a tissue?”  I always carry tissues and wipes, so in an equally bright, friendly tone, I said “Why yes, I do!” and started to reach into my bag to grab them, thinking she needed to borrow one.

“Good,” she replied. “Then I won’t have to listen to you sniffle the whole way”.

I slowly placed my bag back on the seat, unsure what to say. I wasn’t making huge sniffling sounds, I was literally just breathing.  She’d really set me up for humiliation.

“It’s a sinus issue,” I told her sternly. “Blowing my nose makes no difference. I thought you wanted to borrow a tissue”.

And with that, I went back to my article, fuming for the next two stops, when I got off.

As I disembarked, she quipped, “Have a nice day!”

I almost turned to scream, “Bugger off you old busy body!” but I kept mum.

What should I have said? It was so odd! 0710-14

I normally have an iron cast stomach but the sound of snot in a nose is enough to make me gag.   And if I hear it at a restaurant or dining table, the chances I may retch go up considerably.   I suspect you have no idea just how loud your sniffling actually is. If strangers are willing to approach you about it, it seems to me it is more noticeable than your nose merely being congested.  “Sniffling” is the sound of nasal bodily fluids we are trying to either evacuate from our nose or sniffling to keep it from dribbling out onto the upper lip…it is the sound of one’s nose dripping.     Whether it is due to seasonal allergies or a cold virus or a bacterial sinus infection, the sound is the same for the hearer who cannot distinguish which is the source and therefore the etiquette must be the same for all possible scenarios.   You cover your nose, you wipe your nose, you take whatever actions you can to mitigate the sound of your body leaking so the general public does not see it or hear it.

Judith Martin aka Miss Manners, in her book, “Miss Manners’ Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior (Freshly Updated)”, page 295, advocates that people carry handkerchiefs, preferably cloth, and to hold it in one’s hand even if no longer needed as indicative of a “good faith” effort to address the problem of sneezing and sniffling.

{ 156 comments… read them below or add one }

Heather July 14, 2014 at 3:02 am

I’m afraid I must disagree with the administrator on this one. My husband has a condition that makes it sound like he is sniffing with quite a bit of frequency, but there is nothing to be done about it. He is not sniffing, or sniffling, because there is no fluid there to sniff. He has chronic swelling in the upper nasal cavity and the instinct is to sniff or blow to try and clear the obstruction – he is usually not aware that he has made the noise. Correcting it would require surgery for which he has been unable to take the time off work. Covering, wiping, and blowing his nose make no difference – although the first would make it difficult for him to breathe.

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Marozia July 14, 2014 at 4:57 am

Sometimes the surgery doesn’t even work. My mother and brother had the sinus surgery and they still have sinus issues.
Even so, that old biddy had no right to humiliate OP.

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pdolly July 14, 2014 at 5:07 am

I have a similar condition and it bugs me that people think their sensitivities should matter more to me than my breathing problems. I almost constantly sniff but 99% of the time it is just congestion. Even when it’s fluid it is better for me to sniff than blow as blowing can negatively affect the pressure in the sinuses. Then I’ll just get a bad headache and fall over.

If someone doesn’t like the sound of sniffing *they* should be the ones to move away from it. Without acting huffy and rude.

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Victoria July 14, 2014 at 8:17 am

Seconded.

From the OP: “I wasn’t making huge sniffling sounds, I was literally just breathing.”

One can sound congested when it’s nothing more than inflamed tissues in the sinuses. I’m lucky enough that it only happens to me when I’m horizontal (it’s hard to get to sleep when it’s the sound of your own breathing keeping you awake, and nothing like having to wake and sit up to wait for half an hour so the swelling goes down and you can breathe and go back to sleep), but it’s still a medical issue and not anyone else’s business.

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sam July 14, 2014 at 8:56 am

Me too! I’ve had hypertrophied turbinates (swollen nasal cavity walls) my entire life. One ENT offered to completely remove them for me, which would have had the lovely side effect of removing all of the little hairs in your nose that actually filter out things like germs and dust and allergens. So instead I live with swollen nasal passages, and sometimes the people around me have to hear me sniffle, even though I have zero actual snot in my nose. They can deal with it. In the gamut of disgusting things people see and hear on the new york city subway every day, my loud breathing is the least of it.

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manybellsdown July 14, 2014 at 12:14 pm

Yes, me as well. I haven’t been able to have surgery to see if that fixes it, but I have a slight chronic sniffle that blowing does not alleviate (unless I blow constantly). Nasal sprays will sometimes help but not always. I’m very aware of it when it’s bad, but I can’t just sit at home on bad days so as to avoid subjecting other people to it.

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catwoman2965 July 14, 2014 at 2:29 pm

I also suffer from multiple sinus and allergy issues. my nose and ears are and sinuses are constantly at war with each other. I also have asthma and major post nasal drip. Which means I cough every morning. I’ve tried everything under the sun, and nothing works. Except coughing. and sometimes sniffling. While I try and keep the noise I make to a minimum, sometimes it simply can’t be helped. So if someone said to me what the woman in the OP said, I’d be pretty ticked because I would love to be rid of all this nonesense.

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AnaMaria July 14, 2014 at 8:20 pm

This is the story of my life when allergy season is at it’s worst. And no, we can’t just breathe through our mouths, unless we want to deal with a sore, dried-up throat. I’m a teacher, I know listening to my students sniffle gets annoying really fast, but I also know from experience that the feeling of having blockage and pressure in your nose (when it’s really just swelling) is even more annoying!! Believe me, we would stop if we could!

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admin July 15, 2014 at 7:54 am

After suffering for decades I finally went to an Ear, Nose, Throat doctor, had allergy testing and began a multi year treatment via weekly allergy shots. I cannot believe the difference and highly recommend allergy shots. Changed my life for the better.

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Brit July 14, 2014 at 3:05 am

Admin’s comments may be right, but that woman was still rude to do it like that.

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Rebecca July 14, 2014 at 7:35 am

Agreed. It would have been more polite for the older lady to say, “Excuse me, do you need a tissue?” and offer one of hers (if she had them). If someone near me is sniffling, I generally assume it’s because they don’t have tissues, not because they’re deliberately trying to offend everyone.

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The Elf July 14, 2014 at 4:32 pm

I agree – the woman was out of line with her comments. If OP can do anything about the sniffling, great. If not, just know that it’s a habit that annoys many and try to minimize it.

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Cicero July 14, 2014 at 3:34 am

I’m with the Admin. on this one. If there is one annoying habit that is my personal “nails on a chalkboard” it’s constant sniffling. Other annoying habits are annoying, but I know they are part of the “public transportation issues” that we have to deal with. It’s not easy to approach a stranger and comment on this – and while the “do you have a tissue” may be an annoying approach, i think she was trying to be nice about it.

I also don’t see what “senior citizen” had to do with anything. this remark was uncalled for.

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don't blink July 14, 2014 at 10:54 am

I think the reference that the lady was a senior citizen was simply to reinforce the fact that the OP did not expect her to come forth with such a humiliating comment.

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Daniel July 14, 2014 at 2:07 pm

Did you miss the part where the elderly woman said “Then I don’t have to listen to you sniffle the whole way”? I think you may have missed that cutting remark.

Senior citizen is a descriptive term to give us the general idea of her age. Is there something offensive about being called such? Do you prefer “elderly” or “well-aged”? What other words might we use to be less offensive?

If sniffling is like nails on a chalkboard to you, then move. Simple as that. If there are no other seats and you are at your wits end, then offer a tissue yourself. Don’t set someone up for humiliation like that and then deliver a swift blow as if you’re Her Majesty herself. As is apparent in this posting and in the comments, people have legitimate sinus issues.

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Lucretia July 14, 2014 at 6:28 pm

“I also don’t see what “senior citizen” had to do with anything. this remark was uncalled for.” Rather like the old lady’s rude remarks, isn’t it? Her remark was also uncalled for.

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Twik July 14, 2014 at 7:49 pm

But it’s not a habit, it’s a physical condition. Trust me, those of us with bad sinuses would happily get rid of the symptoms if we could. But as the LW says, blowing the nose does nothing. Constant decongestants are harmful, and don’t even start about the effects of nasal sprays.

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OP July 14, 2014 at 9:27 pm

I’m the OP – I pointed out her age as I wondered if it may have been something generational (I’m no spring chicken myself, however). It was not intended as an insult of any kind.

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Brit July 15, 2014 at 8:11 am

For heaven’s sake, some people just give some background description! How is it ‘uncalled for’ to mention this about the woman, or that she was well-dressed, or had red hair, for example?

Giving descriptions about people does not always mean that an OP is trying to imply anything. It gets really tiresome having posters start up with ‘I don’t see what her having black hair has to do with blah blah blah’. It hasn’t! It was just a bit of background info. Talk about over-reacting.

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Reaver July 14, 2014 at 4:16 am

I understand Admins aversion to the sound, but it sorta sounded like Admin is saying the OP deserved to be treated poorly due to a sound she quite obviously can’t help but make =/

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admin July 14, 2014 at 8:48 am

No, what I am saying is that sniffling and snorting will be viewed by a large segment of the population as being indicative of illness and not particularly something they will want to hear or see. When you sneeze, you cover your mouth and when you have sniffles, you carry a visible hanky/tissue to address that problem. Rude woman on the train may not have said anything if the OP had an obvious tissue in her hand indicating she was aware that she is sniffling and taking appropriate steps to mitigate it as much as possible.

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clairedelune July 14, 2014 at 10:17 am

I still don’t understand what principle of etiquette dictates that someone with a non-productive sniffling condition carry around a tissue as some sort of prop. Aren’t there just as many people who would be disgusted by the sight of an evidently-dirty tissue clutched in someone’s hand as would be disgusted by the sound of sniffing?

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admin July 15, 2014 at 8:28 am

Judith Martin aka Miss Manners, in her book, “Miss Manners’ Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior (Freshly Updated)”, page 295, advocates that people carry handkerchiefs, preferably cloth, and to hold it in one’s hand even if no longer needed as indicative of a “good faith” effort to address the problem of sneezing and sniffling.

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OP July 14, 2014 at 9:34 pm

It’s good advice, I will carry a tissue and cover my nose periodically in future to signal I am aware – though I have no need for a tissue as I suffer from sinus inflammation, not a build up of snot or fluid.

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admin July 15, 2014 at 7:50 am

I feel your pain, OP. Truly I do. Producing a hanky/tissue intermittently seems to be the magical talisman that tells others that you are aware of the problem and are doing the best you can to address it.

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Ames July 15, 2014 at 12:20 am

With all due respect to admin, I agree with the poster and think it is very disgusting to carry around a tissue or a hanky on the train and keep it in open sight. If the OP was ill with something like a cold, the surfaces that that tissue or hanky would come into contact with can infect many other persons. Blowing your nose intermittently and putting the tissue away lowers the amount of contagion spread around the carriage.

The older woman in this scenario had the option to sit away from the OP when she realised she had the sniffles as the train carriage was empty. She chose to continue sitting there, listening. Instead, she made a bigger deal about it than necessary.

If the OP was as ill as the lady thought she was, I doubt she would sit there and constantly sniff, risking there being some fluid escaping at some point.

This is coming from someone who gets the train for an hour each way every day for work.

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Tracy W July 14, 2014 at 4:47 am

It sounds like this OP has a medical problem – the letter says that blowing their nose “makes little to no difference.” If the only action the OP can take to mitigate this is staying at home, which sounds like it’s the case, I think that on this point it’s better that the general public suffer. There are a lot of medical problems that can produce symptoms that others find somewhat disgusting, so there’s a good chance that any one of us will find ourselves hoping for tolerance at some point in our lives.

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Margo July 14, 2014 at 5:44 am

I agree that the woman was very rude to comment as she did.

While I think it is worth considering whether there is anything you can do to reduce the noise you make, (does it make any difference if you breathe a little more through your mouth, for instnnace?)

If you get a similar comment in the future then an icy “I am so sorry that my medical condition irritates you” Or even “What an unpleasant thing to say”

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Cami July 14, 2014 at 10:06 pm

I have a similar problem. Believe me, I’ve tried every medication and treatment offered. And yes, I’ve tried breathing through my mouth. Breathing through my mouth does not lessen the amount of stuff in my nose. Moreover, if I breathe through my mouth, I get bad breath, dry lips, and eventually the snot will run out and I have to wipe. Do that ALL the time all day long and I end up with a red, chafed nose and eventually, a sore or even better, multiple sores. At which point, some lovely member of the public will make loud comments about said sores.

So sorry, folks. I’m not going to end up with a sore to spare your sensibilities, which will then be offended by the sores I got to spare your other sensibilities.

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kit July 15, 2014 at 6:08 am

The people who suggest that the OP call it her “medical condition” – do you realize that having snot/flu/tuberculosis/whatever is a medical condition, too? I don’t see how it would result in anything but the OP sounding as an absolute jerk (“I’m so sorry me coming to a train with a highly contagious illness irritates you”, anyone?).

—–

I am a teacher. I have had pupils sniffling audibly during tests, in a very quiet classroom where you could hear a pin drop (unless it happened during sniffling I mean), obviously disturbing the rest of class, sniffler refusing when I offered a tissue. Maybe they had the same kind of medical condition, too, but what would you suggest as a solution? Have the rest of class potentially getting lower results (interest of many vs interest of one etc) or throw the one out of classroom and ask him to write the test after lessons?

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pdolly July 15, 2014 at 1:25 pm

Or your pupils could learn to function with a sniffer in the room. They will have to deal with noise in the workplace when they use whatever you’re teaching them. They’ll have to get over it sometime. The sooner the better.

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crebj July 14, 2014 at 6:02 am

No one is a winner here. Observer was rude, but she was not a busybody, to point out that the OP’s sniffles were disturbing. It certainly seemed obvious to the OP. So why the OP didn’t simply say “It’s a medical condition; I’m sorry to disturb you.”? A former office mate refused to do anything about his hacking cough, or acknowledge that it was noisy. As a result, no one asks him to lunch.

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Twik July 14, 2014 at 7:51 pm

As someone with a “hacking cough” right now, I would really like for advice on what to do about it, because my doctor basically says he’s done everything possible.

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jan July 14, 2014 at 6:12 am

I posted about this years ago on the forum and was pounced on by all and sundry. I had not said anything to the sniffler (I never would). Just commented (to the forum) on how annoying it was to hear it over and over. And I am pretty sure I can distinguish between someone with breathing problems, and someone who is too lazy to get a tissue and blow their nose properly. And I was speaking of adults, not toddlers with a runny nose.

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AngePange July 15, 2014 at 5:48 am

There are always double standards, I suppose because there are two sides to every story. However, I do think that sometimes people seem want to find a “twist” by calling the OP out as the etiquette impaired.

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Beatrix July 14, 2014 at 6:16 am

The medical condition may be annoying, but there is no excuse for such a rude interaction.

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Alli July 14, 2014 at 6:26 am

My Dad had a life-saving surgery that required the doctors to go through his sinus. For that reason he has no feeling in part of his face and things don’t drain quite right. Like the first poster, some of the ordinary measures would actually be harmful – constantly blowing or covering his nose could cause irritation. He certainly makes an effort, but when he’s got a cold, there’s just no way for his breathing to sound normal. Just breathing for him will sound like sniffing.

So, please people, try not to judge others in public. You have no idea what happened to them.

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o_gal July 14, 2014 at 6:30 am

I also disagree with the admin, who did not address the etiquette question (what should the OP have said). I think the OP had a very nice spine and politely addressed the other woman’s rudeness. I think this situation comes under the category of having to experience things when out in public that bother you. If something like hearing someone sniffle is enough to make you gag and retch, it’s not the other person’s fault – it’s something that you must find a way to deal with it. The other woman could have inquired as to whether the OP could use a tissue, and then accepted an explanation of sinus issues, rather than setting the OP up for humiliation.

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Ellie July 14, 2014 at 7:20 pm

I like your suggestion. “Do you need a tissue?” would been a much more polite question if the woman really felt the sniffling was necessary to address, especially if she did it with the same friendly tone she was trying to pull off.

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Kai July 14, 2014 at 6:30 am

Chronic and seasonal sinusitis is medical issue and it can be quite delibitating. The drugs that work make you drowsy and nasal sprays are highly addictive (and in the long term counteracting). So it’s a tough one. I have it and I remember one of the first nights I slept over he mumbled half asleep “blow your nose” and fumbled for a tissue. I was mortified as there is nothing to blow. It’s just blocked and nothing will move it.

The lady should have said “would you like a tissue?” Then the op could have explained herself. The lady then had the choice to politely move away. Believe me, the op would just sound like a foghorn blowing away and that would be even more annoying.

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Eve_Eire July 14, 2014 at 6:38 am

Sorry but I have to disagree with Admin.

The OP says that she wasn’t sniffling – she was just breathing. Her regular breathing sounds like sniffling, she can’t help that. The noise she was making had nothing to do with bodily fluids coming out of her nose – she made that quite clear in the post.

I think the other woman was rude – she could just as easily have gotten up and sat away from OP in one of the many other available spaces. If she really felt she had to say something, she could have been nicer about it than leading the OP to think she meant one thing and then abruptly switching tact.

I think you were fine OP, more polite than many others would be I suspect.

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Kamatari July 14, 2014 at 6:43 am

Why did the woman have to sit opposite you in an empty carriage anyway? It was painfully obvious you weren’t going to want to chit chat. After you said your piece and did not complete the action she hoped for, she was free to move elsewhere if the sound bothered her so much. She was actually in an enviable situation in that she, unlike many others, had the opportunity to move.

People who do not either have themselves or have experience with diseases/conditions that others have are far less likely to be sympathetic and understanding to those who don’t or even realize how much those diseases/conditions affects someone.

Under normal circumstances, I would agree with the Admin. Simply having a drippy nose is uncomfortable enough. Listening to it is annoying, especially when you are doing a task, such as a test where you need to concentrate. But if it is something like a condition that can’t really be helped, then I don’t think the OP was wrong or rude. Perhaps blowing you nose once or twice and having the woman listen to lack of difference would have sufficed though. But I still maintain that (as in this instance) if she didn’t like listening to the sniffles, then she was free to move to a better seat.

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Kate July 15, 2014 at 5:07 am

Yes, this is what I would have done. There are several sounds/behaviours that annoy me on public transport (sniffing, coughing, people eating smelly food, loud talkers) and when I have the option to do so, I just change seats without making it obvious.

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Abby July 14, 2014 at 7:16 am

Regardless of how loud the OP may have been, the lady was rude.

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Anonymous July 14, 2014 at 7:22 am

I agree with Heather. Also, the train carriage was almost empty, so that woman could have moved and sat elsewhere, if the OP’s sinus condition was so offensive to her.

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Saucygirl July 14, 2014 at 7:30 am

Does the op actually sound like she has snot in her nose, as admin said? My daughter has allergy issues, and occasionally “sniffles” too. And while I agree it may be louder then I realize since I’m use to it, I would never characterize it as the snotty, trying not to drip, definitely gag inducing sound we make when actually sick. It just sounds like she’s taking a loud breath through her nose.

Either way, I think the lady was rude in how she handled it. A simple “are you okay? Do you need a tissue?” would have been a nicer, less embarrassing way to have approached the op”

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CarolAnn July 14, 2014 at 7:32 am

I’ve got to agree with the admin here. While the woman may not have been polite, I think it’s possible that the OP has under-estimated how loud her sniffling is.

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Huh July 14, 2014 at 7:43 am

On one hand, I get it about noises that are annoying/make you sick. On the other, I know about nasal area noises you have no control over. My mother, for example, gets bad seasonal allergy attacks where all she does is cough all the time. It can drive you nuts listening to it. She’s tried all sorts of medications and doctor-prescribed treatments and nothing helps. Then the pollen that she’s allergic to goes away and she’s perfectly fine. Yes, even I as a teenager have snapped at her, “Stop it!” and she says, “I would love to, find something that will stop it!” I too get seasonal allergies, but mine manifest in sneezing/stuffed up, and if I can’t go to a restaurant or out in public while they are at their worst, then that’s a pretty long stretch of time I’m not going anywhere. :( Yes, I carry tissues/take medicine, but if the noise of sniffling is the problem, there is not amount of blowing/medicine that makes it go away. It might annoy you, but I’m miserable.

My BF has a condition similar to what Heather was talking about, I think, he sounds stuffed up when breathing. If you’re sitting next to him, you can hear it. I don’t really notice it much anymore, but I’m sure the noise would drive admin and the lady on the train nuts.

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Peep July 14, 2014 at 7:48 am

I may not enjoy bodily function noises and other things, but unless I believe the person is doing it on purpose to annoy others, I’ll give a pass to almost anything. I suffer from chronic issues, so does my husband. I’m sure everyone who’s ever been sick has had a moment where they just couldn’t control something disgusting that their body was doing. My mother once had a friend who I knew had something wrong with her because whenever she’d use the bathroom, the stench she left behind could peel paint off the walls. It may not have been pleasant, but it was a medical issue, and even as a child I said nothing and was grateful that I didn’t have whatever affliction she had. It’s not for me to judge someone who might live with a chronic issue they can’t control. Just as I’d try to be sympathetic with someone who’s got a disorder prone to public scenes like say, Tourrette’s, I try to be understanding of anyone whose body is not under their full control for whatever reason. It could be my turn to hope for a little sympathy at any time, so I always try to give what I’d hope to receive.

I’m also willing to bet that most people with chronic conditions are fully aware of what’s going on and what other people can hear/see/smell, and are doing everything in their power to minimize the spectacle they’re making of themselves. There’s only so much a person can do, and sometimes doing the polite thing can do some serious damage to the person who’s got a condition. Nobody wants to do these things, and it can be horribly embarrassing to be in public when your body goes haywire.

I was once in the bathroom of a fast food restaurant when I discovered definitively and very unexpectedly that I had the stomach flu. More than one stranger in the bathroom with me commented on the noises coming out of my stall, and it just made things *so* much worse. I don’t know why they felt the need to comment, or what they hoped to gain from publicly shaming me while I was on the floor of a public restroom. It’s not like I could’ve stopped what was going on. THAT’S what I think of whenever I see or hear someone dealing with medical issues in public, and I treat them exactly how I would’ve wanted to be treated that day.

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clairedelune July 14, 2014 at 10:14 am

That’s very gracious and empathetic of you. A good reminder for all of us!

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kingsrings July 14, 2014 at 1:04 pm

People commenting on what you were doing in the restroom was definitely rude. Restrooms are made for unpleasant bodily functions, so what do they expect to hear or smell when they’re in a restroom? Of course it’s not at all pleasant for the person who has to smell or listen to it, but they can just ignore it and get out of there asap.

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Wild Irish Rose July 14, 2014 at 7:49 am

Sniffling doesn’t really bother me much. What I find repulsive is the loud snort of phlegm into one’s head, followed by the loud clearing of one’s throat. Ugh! I think Admin is right that the OP may not realize how noisy her breathing is, but I too am aware that there are conditions that make a person breathe loudly although there is nothing in the sinuses to expel. And I think Brit is right–the woman on the train was rude.

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Phitius July 14, 2014 at 11:25 am

The woman one cube over from me does the sniffling, and the snot sucking / grunting / throat clearing thing. It’s also not something she does every now and then, it’s a constant.

I have noise canceling headphones and can still hear her. It’s unbelievably loud and honestly disgusting.

Everyone around her realizes it’s a medical issue, so no one says anything, but for 8-10 hours a day we have to listen to what sounds like an excited truffle hog. It makes it very difficult to work.

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kingsrings July 14, 2014 at 1:07 pm

That is indeed disgusting! Nobody wants to hear phlegm noises, and it’s very rude to be constantly making them. I also am disgusted by spitting, especially the noises the spitter makes before they hack it out.

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viviennebzb July 14, 2014 at 7:53 am

I really don’t care for the sound either, but that is my problem to deal with while living among society. I find the actions of the older woman to be much much snottier than the OP. There’s no reason to be so rude about it.

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Kara July 14, 2014 at 7:58 am

OP I think that you were better then I would have been… I would have invited the woman to move to a different seat if the sound of my breathing was bothering her, especially since it sounds like the two of you were in a nearly empty car. (As a side note, I just don’t understand the mentality of people who will go into an empty train car and sit rightnext to the one other person there. There is plenty or room! Spread out for heaven’s sake!)

My husband has a deviated septum resulting from a badly-set broken nose when he was younger. He always sounds like he is congested or has a cold, but that is simply the way that it is. He has gotten quite used to people (rudely) commenting on it and either ignores them or tells them that if they don’t like it, then either go away or don’t listen.

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knitwicca July 14, 2014 at 11:29 am

Kara, I had the surgery to repair a severely deviated septum. Then found two things: (a) most people who have the surgery begin to snore loudly enough to wake themselves and (b) it only lasts for around 10 years then usually needs to be surgically corrected again.

FTR, the ENT nurse had the same surgery and had to begin sleeping at the other end of the house from her husband and children because her snoring woke them.
My ex-BF started wearing ear plugs when we spent the night together. THAT is how bad it can be.

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Mary July 14, 2014 at 7:59 am

I do think the admin was a little harsh. It certainly is very possible to make sounds like sniffling without actual mucous in your nose that can be blown out of ones nose. I’ve had issues where my breathing will sound like that and no matter how many times I blow my nose nothing will come out.

I think the tissue woman was incredibly rude. If the OP ‘s breathing bothered her that much, she could have moved without making the rude comments. The OP did state that the train car was almost empty. If she hadn’t moved, if I were the OP I would have moved myself just to get away from her.

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DGS July 14, 2014 at 8:01 am

I’m afraid I must disagree with Admin. While the sound may be disturbing, on public transit, the passenger that is bothered by the noise, can always move out of sight or hearing of the offender. Some people cannot help their medical conditions, and it would be horribly rude and presumptuous to chew them out without knowing their medical conditions. The woman was unnecessarily rude to the OP. She could have moved and sat elsewhere, or she could have put her headphones on to drown out the noise of her sniffling.

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Cecilia July 14, 2014 at 8:08 am

The woman was rude. I understand that sniffling and the sound of congestion makes some people nauseous/gag, and I admit that on occasion it has made me nauseous/gag, but if it was disturbing the other woman so much, she should have moved to a different seat if the carriage was otherwise empty.

Some people really cannot help making those types of noises. Surgery may not be an option for some or, since their symptoms only appear during allergy season, they may not choose to have surgery for something that can be managed with medication. I am very lucky that I do not have allergies, but if I did, I’m not sure I would choose surgery.

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Mojo July 14, 2014 at 8:09 am

I understand you have a problem you can’t fix. I had a co-worker once with a similar condition that caused her to sniff, every few seconds, all day long. It was maddening to everyone around her, but we knew she couldn’t help it, and just suffered with patience. Heck, it helped keep meetings short!

There’s another condition we can’t fix, called misophonia, and it’s more prevalent than people think. Sufferers have a real fear of certain sounds, often ‘wet’ sounds like chewing, snoring and sniffing. It’s unfortunate when someone with your condition meets someone with mine. I know other sufferers who use the aggresive “Have you got a tissue? Then use it!” approach in public. Me, I’ll just move away from you to a different carriage, or put in my headphones.

Yes, I think the woman you met was rude, and yes, she probably thinks you’re rude. In fact, you’re just annoying each other, and it’s possible there’s nothing either of you can do about it.

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WtheW July 14, 2014 at 12:52 pm

“Sufferers have a real fear of certain sounds, often ‘wet’ sounds like chewing, snoring and sniffing.”

What do you fear will happen? I can’t understand how a noise that doesn’t indicate danger or a startling loud noise can cause fear. Since you have this affliction, can you explain?

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MollyMonster July 15, 2014 at 10:28 am

I suffer from this and it isn’t so much fear as dread. Anticipating the next sniffle or gum smack or snore just brings on a feeling of stress and dread. Maybe it is the dread that that noise will be the one where you finally crack and go ape-shit on the person, I am not sure. I just know that I CANNOT be in the same room as a person who is eating by themselves (if everyone is eating and/or I am eating and there is conversation, I am fine. If the only sounds are another person masticating food, I have to leave the room because my stress levels skyrocket.) I once spent an entire Mass praying for the strength to not turn around and strangle the person behind me who kept sniffling. Being trapped in a car or bus with someone constantly making those noises is a nightmare for me. If nails on a chalkboard gives you the willies, it is similar to what I experience hearing people’s wet mouth and nose noises. I always try to leave the area as it is *my* problem, but I can’t say I wouldn’t do what the lady on the bus did because while the OP’s condition was not helped by tissue, that isn’t obvious to a casual observer and I would do anything to stop those noises.

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LeeLee88 July 14, 2014 at 8:14 am

If it’s just a slight sniffle, I can handle that perfectly fine; it probably won’t even register. But if someone is horking back what sounds like a voluminous amount of “excretion”, than I will do my best to remove myself or not gag in front of them. I’ve tried offering tissues to horkers before, they never take them. I’ve never phrased it the way the lady on the train did, I don’t think that was very kind, but I have offered a tissue just in case they really did need one.

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Jennifer July 14, 2014 at 8:15 am

I feel your pain, OP. I have a strange thing that happens to me – whenever I get a cold I cough like crazy for about two weeks after I’m all better. It’s just something my lungs do and the only cure is to wait. I know some people think I am sick because of the cough, but my doctor assures me that I am not if all other symptoms are gone. I can’t stop the cough and I can’t use two weeks of sick time each time I am exposed to a cold.

While I agree with Admin that others may be uncomfortable with the sound, and the way the woman engaged with you, perhaps an apology and an explanation should come without the resentment of being addressed. No one wants to get sick and I think we all fear that coughing and sniffling are signals of possible contamination.

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LizaJane July 14, 2014 at 8:25 am

I agree that the woman was rude AND that the sound is annoying. Maybe if the OP had a tissue in her hand, people would think she’d been using it and keep quiet. Maybe not.

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Carol July 14, 2014 at 8:29 am

Some people have a condition where mouth & nasal noises really bother them. I seem to myself. My pet peeve is snapping & smacking while chewing gum. It drives me crazy to stand near someone doing it. I think it’s just so rude that it makes me mad that someone would be so inconsiderate as to do this in public near others. I once asked a lady in the airport (as politely as I could) to please stop. I hated to ask her & felt very awkward asking her, but then I thought…. Why is is rude for me to ask her to stop, but not rude for her to do it? I am amazed at how many people snap & smack their gum in public as if it is perfectly OK to do so. I suppose sniffing is a different matter, but I can see how it would be annoying. She should have asked in a nicer way though.

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LizaJane July 14, 2014 at 9:36 pm

There’s a condition that makes people annoyed by sniffling?

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Andrea July 14, 2014 at 8:43 am

I agree with Heather on this one – admin’s advice is a bit ignorant. Some people have conditions that cause them to sniffle often and there is little that they can do about it. My father has very serious sinus issues that often leave him sniffing and coughing for months on end. For long periods of time he cannot even taste food because his sense of smell is completely gone. His only treatment options are steroids (which he doesn’t want to take very often) and serious surgery with a lengthy recovery time that may not even solve the problem. So yes, if it was a matter of blowing his nose he would of course do that, but unfortunately that will do nothing to stop his sniffing. In any case, this woman was definitely rude bringing it up in the way that she did, and I think the OP handled it well by calling her out while not being rude herself. Unfortunately, the reality is that in public you may have to deal with sights, sounds and smells that you would rather not and there is no reason to be outright rude when you call someone out about it when you may have no idea behind the cause.

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admin July 14, 2014 at 9:08 am

One of the fun aspects of adminning a blog are the presumptuous comments people make about what I know or don’t know, experienced, etc. I suffer from severe allergies (grasses, tree pollen, dander, fur, mold, dust, you name it) and have taken allergy shots for years. I know exactly what it is like to have swollen sinuses, sinus infections, congestion, sniffling, etc. so I think I know of what I speak when I recommend that people really do not want to hear or see it and trying to mitigate the symptoms is good manners. That is why you excuse yourself from a room when you need to blow a wad from your nose and why chronic sufferers need to keep a tissue handy so it cues in others that you are making an effort to deal with it. And yes, I get a gag reflex dealing with my own snot.

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Calli Arcale July 14, 2014 at 11:21 am

Excusing oneself to blow one’s nose is definitely the proper thing to do. It gets more challenging when in the enforced confines of public transportation, which is why, of course, we tend to encounter more rudeness in that setting. It’s not really that people are any worse when cooped up, but that we’re stuck together for much longer than we’re used to.

I don’t think this was a case of needing to blow one’s nose, though. It is good manners to try to mitigate the sounds, but sometimes there is nothing one can do. I have mixed feelings about using a kleenex to fake that I’m trying to clear my nose so they know I’m not being deliberately rude. On the one hand, it’s not a bad idea, but on the other, the charade could inadvertently aggravate things by calling greater attention to the sufferer’s nasal misery. I dunno. I wish the lady hadn’t been so passive-aggressive about it; that made it difficult to respond appropriately. We don’t know if she was being oversensitive to OP. Certainly she didn’t choose a polite means of addressing the situation.

I am also repulsed by the sounds of sniffling, which, since I suffer from allergies and asthma, is unpleasant. My husband’s dear maternal grandmother made a lot of very nasty sounds in her last few years of life, but there wasn’t a thing she could’ve done about it. Her body was overproducing phlegm, and she was also experiencing congestive heart failure, so she was always having to force phlegm up and out of her pharynx. Nothing she could do about it. It was that or stop breathing. I never called her on it. As disgusting as the sound was, I would’ve felt rude by pointing it out.

I can understand the OP being taken aback by this lady’s rude approach to the problem. I don’t think there was much chance for a rapproachment there. All I’d do is say, “I’m sorry, it’s a physical problem with my sinuses and I cannot clear my nose. I will do my best not to be too loud.” I would not take exception when told to have a nice day. Whenever a passive-aggressive person wishes me a nice day, I always take it in the spirit I would prefer it be meant, and return that sentiment sincerely, for I am free of any judgement they may put upon me, free to make my own judgement of myself and continue with my day.

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Dee July 14, 2014 at 12:50 pm

I don’t understand how holding a tissue would help to mitigate those who are bothered by the noise of OP’s breathing. If I hold a tissue in my closed hand then probably nobody else can see it; if I never use it to blow or wipe my nose then anyone who would see the tissue would be annoyed that I’ve got one but am not using it. As the OP says she doesn’t have anything in her nose to blow she probably would not be using the tissue, ever, and so how would a person nearby feel better about the tissue in her hand, if they did see it, when the sound continues unabated? Also, I am uncomfortable about people using their “tissue” hand to touch common surfaces; if I blow my nose and hold the tissue afterward I am aware that that hand is rather germy now, so I use my other hand to touch surfaces until I can wash up. If the tissue I’m holding is for looks only, I’m not going to refrain from using that hand, with the tissue in it, to touch common surfaces. Now THAT looks bad.

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Steve July 14, 2014 at 2:08 pm

Your defensiveness isn’t very attractive.

You obviously do NOT understand the condition the OP is describing. Nose-blowing or sniffling or whatever has nothing to do with it, and there is no “mitigating” to be done.

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admin July 15, 2014 at 8:37 am

So, Miss Manners is dead wrong then? How interesting.

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Alex July 14, 2014 at 3:05 pm

Admin she did not say you were ignorant but that the advice given was ignorant. It is a presumption to assume you do not understand sinus/allergy conditions. However you say, “If strangers are willing to approach you about it, it seems to me it is more noticeable than your nose merely being congested. “Sniffling” is the sound of nasal bodily fluids we are trying to either evacuate from our nose or sniffling to keep it from dribbling out onto the upper lip…it is the sound of one’s nose dripping.” which indicates that one would only be sniffing if they had fluids trying to escape one’s nose. It is not necessarily the sound of one’s nose dripping it may very well be the sound of someone trying to move air passed swollen sinuses. Since you have experienced swollen sinus then it stands to reason you know that sometimes there is next to nothing you can do to mitigate the situation. Your reply to the OP was quite harsh and showed little to no sympathy or empathy toward the OP’s situation. It seems to me your response was colored greatly by your sensitivity to the sound of phlegm /sniffing and that response led many to infer that you condoned the way the lady treated the OP.

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admin July 15, 2014 at 8:36 am

I also have enough experience to know that carrying a hanky and producing it when appropriate shows I am making what Miss Manners calls a “good faith” effort to address my own allergy issues. I think people are quite forgiving of odd noises other people make when they see that we are aware of it and are making that good faith attempt to curtail it as much as possible.

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Andrea July 15, 2014 at 3:44 pm

Thank you Steve and Alex, I share your feelings precisely. I have another comment awaiting moderation that I’m guessing won’t be posted, but I absolutely agree that there is a difference between understanding how it feels to have allergies vs. a chronic sinus issue that does not change with the seasons and few (or no) treatment options. And yes, I do think that Miss Manners is dead wrong on this issue. I think it is unreasonable to expect someone who has no need to wipe or blow their nose to carry around a tissue or handkerchief every time they are out in public simply so they do not offend a few people with specific sensitivities.

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SherlockSara July 16, 2014 at 11:43 am

I agree, Andrea. I think it is unreasonable to expect someone to carry a tissue around in their hand all day, every day — since that what it is, when you have chronic sinus issues… all day, every day, year round.

Does Ms. Manners expect this lady, who has a chronic condition, to hold a tissue in her hand constantly, never ever being without one? Just to show others she is aware of her own chronic condition? I can’t agree with admin on this one.

Angeldrac July 14, 2014 at 3:37 pm

Something that really grosses me out is watching a person with a permanent moist tissue clenched in their fist and dabbed to their nose every 20 seconds. I would rather hear the sniff every 20 seconds, quite frankly. Especially on public transport when the hands that are holding the tissue then touch hand rails, arm rests and door knobs.
In many cultures the sniffing is actually considered more polite to blowing ones’s nose as it keeps the germs contained and not blown out to the shared atmosphere.

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A different Tracy July 15, 2014 at 10:29 am

Personally, I’d rather see a dirty tissue than hear sniffling. So please don’t assume your own preferences extend to every one else. As for “many cultures,” let’s all try to settle for the culture we’re presently in.

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Angeldrac July 16, 2014 at 7:25 am

I don’t know if you have realised from the myriad of variety if responses to every story on this website, but we ARE all from different cultures, honey.

A different Tracy July 17, 2014 at 1:03 pm

“I don’t know if you have realised from the myriad of variety if responses to every story on this website, but we ARE all from different cultures, honey.”

How marvelously condescending. Sadly, you missed my point entirely.

OP July 15, 2014 at 9:52 pm

Goodness this got a bit mean. I do think the advice about holding a tissue was great, and I had not thought of it. I appreciate the admin weighing in – I can understand that it may be louder than I think and that it can be gross to bystanders!

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Ashley July 14, 2014 at 8:46 am

The woman could have moved, and she could have offered you a tissue instead of patronizing you. OP, I think you handled the situation perfectly.

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Jared Bascomb July 14, 2014 at 8:57 am

I too have sinus problems that can be aggravated by nonspecific seasonal allergies. (In fact, it’s happening right now.) I’ve found that the best solution to warding off rude people like the OP’s carriage mate is to take the first move: take out a tissue (whether you need to blow your nose or not), dab at your nostrils, and with a polite and sincere smile say, “Sorry. I’m not contagious, but my sinuses/allergies are really acting up.” Every time I do that, I get sympathy from the person(s) I’m interacting with, many of whom have the same problems!

BTW, I have to carry a tissue with me at all times because any sort of physical activity – esp working out at the gym – raises my body temperature just enough to start my nose running ever so slightly and not to the point of actual dripping. Very annoying.

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rachel July 14, 2014 at 1:53 pm

Screw that noise. Your sinuses are no one else’s business. There is no need for such charades.

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OP July 14, 2014 at 9:41 pm

Good advice, since I always carry tissues anyway I will have one in my hand on particularly bad days.

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Shalamar July 14, 2014 at 8:59 am

I remember having a coughing fit in public when I had bronchitis, and someone passed me a Halls cough candy with a very annoyed “Maybe THIS will shut you up” expression. I felt like saying “Thanks for the thought, but only antibiotics and time will fix this.”

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Kovitlac July 14, 2014 at 10:26 am

You have my sympathy, OP. That woman was rude as heck. If she wanted to help, instead of just being hurtful, she could have offered you a tissue, herself. As it was, though, all she accomplished was making you feel awful, when there’s clearly little you could have done to avoid the situation, anyway.

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lakey July 14, 2014 at 11:00 am

I disagree with the administrator on this one. As a teacher I had students who had allergies. Sometimes, no matter what the person does, they can’t completely eradicate the symptoms and sounds. I had one student who stood next to the wastebasket in the classroom and blew his nose hard 12 times in a row.
The sound of the nose blowing was worse than the sound of the sniffling. He couldn’t help it. It wasn’t like a cold where he could stay home sick. It is just a fact of life for these people and they deal with it the best they can.

If that woman on the subway was so bothered, she could have moved farther away, rather than make a passive/aggressive remark. Pretending to ask for a kleenex, in order to make a snarky remark about a condition that the OP already knew she had, was aimed at humiliating her.

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don't blink July 14, 2014 at 11:02 am

Op, you handled it as well as you could have. The woman in question was both presumptuous and rude. Regardless of how loud your sniffling was or if the woman had issues with bodily fluids, there is no excuse for her to humiliate you that way. And if she genuinely had an issue with the way you sound she certainly could have moved to another seat.

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Stacey Frith-Smith July 14, 2014 at 11:47 am

No one wants to sniffle. It’s almost involuntary. Relief can be hard to come by. There is no excuse for embarrassing someone, not even a tender stomach or an objection to the sound of sniffles. Sufferers of sniffles can do their best to manage the condition. Those afflicted with some delicacy whereby exposure to the sound of sniffles causes nausea may do the same. And then they all lived happily, (and civilly) ever after.

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CW July 14, 2014 at 12:37 pm

Thank you to the other person who mentioned misophonia. It’s a condition that can cause the sufferer serious anxiety from certain sounds. I have issues with sounds. Some make me feel violent and angry. Some make me nauseated. I love my husband but when he chews gum I quite literally want to take his jaw off. However, he is my husband, so I ask him to stop chewing that way. When I feel the same way in public, I don’t feel like it is a stranger’s responsibility to make me feel better. I just do what I can to eliminate hearing the sound, whether that be moving away or wearing headphones. It would be awfully rude of me to say, “Hey, your wheezing is making me want to punch you, can you please stop?” The woman could have been far more polite about the OP’s sniffling.

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Meggotropolis July 14, 2014 at 1:02 pm

Yes….Misophonia actually causes me alot of grief. My boyfriend has sinus issues and he is constantly sniffling and snorting up phlegm. I have asked him to stop many times but he says he doesn’t even notice he’s doing it. When i’m trying to eat, I don’t need to hear his constant sinus and mouth noises.

My main issue with it is the fact that it’s perfectly acceptable to him to make rude and loud noises constantly, but it’s rude for me to hand him a tissue or tell him to blow his nose. My blood is boiling just thinking about it!

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Becca July 14, 2014 at 2:01 pm

Yes! Thank you to both of you who’ve talked about misophonia. I think if you don’t have the sensitivity to sound it’s difficult to understand just how visceral our reactions are. I was really glad when I learned the word– and could explain why open-mouthed chewing stopped me eating. I know snifflers can’t always help their sniffles, but neither I can I stop the way certain sounds make me jump (or leave me queasy).

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Anonymouse July 14, 2014 at 3:56 pm

I have to ask, does misophonia always involve anxiety with sounds? We believe my husband may have it, but he’s all rage. I’ve been doing a bit of research on this, but you and the previous poster are the first I’ve seen to mention anxiety as an issue.

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Shalamar July 15, 2014 at 10:53 am

Yes. The literal translation of the word is “hatred of sound”, so rage sounds about right. My reaction to certain sounds has certainly leaned more towards rage than anxiety, too.

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CW July 15, 2014 at 12:14 pm

The rage he experiences may be how he deals with the anxiety. Some people have panic attacks, some feel violent, some feel sick. I have to talk myself down from the anger I feel at certain sounds because I know it’s not rational to feel that way. It all really depends on the person and how they function. Just to clarify. Misophonia is not feeling slightly annoyed or bothered or put out by sounds. No one particularly enjoys nails on a chalkboard but a person dealing with misophonia may have a panic attack.

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Kate July 16, 2014 at 5:06 am

I also have it and I don’t experience anxiety, just pure anger. Then I get nervous because I worry that one day I’ll lose it and smack someone who is clicking, or chewing gum loudly, or flicking their nails. I’ve been like that since I was little.

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LizaJane July 14, 2014 at 9:39 pm

Misophonia….going to read up on this.

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Elizabeth July 14, 2014 at 12:55 pm

My nephew (8) has a sniffling tic. There’s nothing in his nose, but he makes sniffing noises pretty much constantly. It’s not voluntary, and he can’t suppress it for more than five or ten minutes at a time. Should he eschew all public transportation? Carry a useless handkerchief at all times to signal that he knows he has an issue?

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Mary July 14, 2014 at 1:14 pm

I had a grade school classmate with cystic fibrosis. When he was in school, (he missed school about a third of the time) he had a racking mucous filled cough at least every ten minutes. By one month into first grade all of could just tune it out. For the next eight years we were just used to it. We didn’t let it bother us, especially since we all knew it wasn’t a picnic for him!

He died at 16 but I would hate to think he might have had to put up with rude or passive aggressive comments for something he couldn’t help doing!

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Pixi July 16, 2014 at 9:36 pm

Both my cousin (four years younger than me) and my Stepmother-in-law’s new husband (it’s complicated) have Cystic Fibrosis.

They have constant coughs they can do nothing about, and while they cover their mouths while coughing, neither are pleased when they get constant comments and “offers” of cough drops,

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Elle July 14, 2014 at 1:47 pm

I worked with a girl that had permanent sniffles, complete with the dripping nose, it was like a dripping faucet. I would bring in tissue for my own use which I would put on my desk, she would help herself and within two days the box would be empty. I suggested we alternate bringing in boxes of tissue, but she always *forgot*. I started putting the box in my desk drawer, but she would still help herself. After going through three boxes in one week, I resorted to the tissue packaged in plastic that you could keep in your purse. She was the office manager as well and could have expensed it, but decided she wanted to save the boss money. The worst part was that without me providing the tissue, she would let her nose drip, or wipe it on her sleeve. We dealt with the public who would bring in documents for us to process and the horrified looks on their faces when her nose would drip on their paperwork was too much for me. She was just clueless. She would bake a lot, and would insist on me trying her baked goods, luckily I’m diabetic, so I had an out, unfortunately others on our floor didn’t .

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Becca July 14, 2014 at 1:55 pm

Oh man… I feel for both parties! I’m really sensitive to sound, as are my mother, brother, and uncle– and as the admin obviously is. It’s not being difficult, or fussy– it’s that sound gets to us in a way that it might not get to other people. And in one of fate’s cleverer tricks my wonderful, awesome guy tends to get sinusitis and swollen/inflamed sinuses. I feel for him, and know he can’t do anything about the incessant, seasonal sniffling. Sometimes I just have to leave the room…

So I understand where the woman on the train was coming from, though she handled it very very badly. Even if you think it’s not loud, or invasive, those of us who’re sensitive to sound are probably jumping every time you do it… and while the woman was a bit pushy, the sound is a very real discomfort for her. Even if you can’t stop the breathing problem, maybe just try to remember that it’s a different experience for different people?

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MEH July 14, 2014 at 2:10 pm

Several years ago, I ended up with an adult case of pertussis- better known as Whooping Cough. For 9 weeks after the initial phase of the illness was over, I would go into random, unpredictable coughing fits. These fits were awful as I would literally cough to the point of vomiting. As you can imagine, these were a joy to experience in public. I did the only thing I could do, which was remove myself to the bathroom or outside before the fit got really bad.

I only got a few negative remarks, most people understood I couldn’t help it- and being rude about it never made the coughing fit stop.

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Sarah July 14, 2014 at 2:11 pm

I have to agree with some commenters above who point out that it doesn’t matter how much sniffing, coughing etc. feels like nails on a chalkboard to you – that’s your problem, not the ill person’s. And just as many people will be grossed out by someone noisily blowing their nose as by someone continually sniffing – you can’t win.

I have panic attacks when I see/hear people vomit. Does that give me the right to belittle someone who is sick like the old woman in this story did? Nope! Sometimes you just have to put on your big girl pants and deal with it.

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wren July 14, 2014 at 2:17 pm

I have lived for 35 years with someone who has sinus issues. The sounds are sometimes gross. I have been on the verge of vomiting many times because the sounds were so sickening. But he can’t help it. This is a time when the hearer has to suffer. Because — the person sniffing or hacking or coughing or ahem-ing or wheezing can’t stop it. They have to breathe, and this is part of their breathing.

I do hope the OP and other sinus victims will try to control the various sounds when others are present. As for my husband, I know he can’t help it, but I still feel sickened. I want him to stop, he can’t, and he does it again, and I get grossed out again. My choices are to suffer or to leave the room.

So, OP, what I’m trying to say is yes, she was annoyed and had reason to be annoyed. But she was rude to you. There is no reason for that. Here is what my husband would have said to her. “I’m sorry. The only way for me not to sniff is to stop breathing.”

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gabriele July 14, 2014 at 3:59 pm

Some sounds are more irritating than others, I agree. I think we also don’t hear sounds we make as other people hear them (think about knuckle crackers!).
Something I do which may annoy people is that when I sneeze, I don’t just sneeze (and this just happens, it’s not planned), I inhale as if I were going to sneeze and then don’t. And a second time and don’t. It takes the third time actually sneeze and if the sound is annoying to others it’s a hassle for me because when you know you’re going to sneeze, well it takes your attention away from other things. Most people close their eyes..not good when you’re driving or doing other things in public.
I used to live in SF in an area with light industry. It wasn’t until we moved there that we discovered that there was pollution which made us wake up with a back-of-the-throat mucus and sniffles through the day. A friend suggested using zinc tablets since they were written up in the New England Journal of Medicine for rhino-tracheo problems.
We tried it, and it worked. I read up on it and over the years have suggested other friends and co-workers try it. Zinc is of course at the base of zinc oxide the healing ointment and used for many other beneficial health issues…
It’s one of those common place simple vitamin or mineral options which most doctors don’t bother to consider.
I always have a bottle of 50 mg on hand (although my multiple has zinc, it takes more to dry up the sinuses).
What I most appreciate about it is that it doesn’t jack you up or lay you down…the only noticable side effect is when it wears off and your nose starts to drip or clog again.
Had I been in that car I would have spoken to the OP, sympathised and then suggested she look into taking zinc…I always tell people I’m not a doctor or nurse, just another sufferer and I don’t own any stock in any nutritional supplement company, I just care about other people leading freer lives without the burden of the side-effects of Rx drugs.

The woman who criticised the OP reminds me of the saying about someone with a hammer seeing problem as a nail…..I wonder if she wasn’t upset about something else and used the OP to take out her irritation. Choosing that particular seat might point to that.
Good luck!

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Michele K July 14, 2014 at 4:19 pm

I put my sympathies with OP, not tissue lady. I suffer with allergies and, while I take medication, I will have a sneezing/sniffling attack occasionally. I try to get away from people when it happens, but sometimes I cannot. At the height of the allergy season, the only medication I can take that knocks out the potential attacks is one that puts me to sleep. Not convenient when you need to go about your daily business.

The OP has a medical condition which means she sounds like she is sniffling when she is just breathing. Why should she carry around a tissue and pretend she is using it, when she does not need it? Snot is not coming out. It is not dripping out of her nose.

I also have sensitivities to certain noises. I understand not wanting to be in a confined space listening to another person’s sniffling/repeated coughing/screaming child. However, I am not rude enough to make a comment about it, especially in a P/A way. Tissue lady could have moved away from the OP instead of making such a comment.

Admin, a question. Why did you address the OP’s potential rudeness and not address the rude tissue lady’s P/A actions? Is one rudeness so egregious that it overrules any rudeness on the part of the other?

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Cat July 14, 2014 at 4:42 pm

Our bodies produce a variety of sounds that are disgusting or amusing, depending upon your point of view. Some can be very annoying. My mother liked to suck her teeth. It drove me nuts.
She also snored. It didn’t bother me unless she fell asleep in church and began snoring very loudly.
It reminded me of the story my priest told of a little boy who, after mass, came up to him and exclaimed, “Father, when I grow up I am going to get a job, make a lot of money and give it all to you!” Father said, “That’s nice, son, but why do you think I should have lot of money?” The little boy explained, “Because my Daddy says you are the poorest preacher he has ever heard!”
Don’t insult people, either to their faces or behind their backs.

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