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The Mysterious Sun Sneeze

When I was a kid, I had a friend who thought she was allergic to the sun because every time she stepped outside she sneezed. In fact, she taught me the trick of looking toward the sun (but never directly at it) or into a bright light to bring on a shy sneeze.


If you are not a sun sneezer, you might be surprised to know that this phenomenon has been recognized for over 40 years by the medical community, and they even gave it a scientific sounding name: photic sneezing reflex.

Sun sneezers are in the minority since the reflex only occurs in one out of four people. Studies suggest that it might be a dominant trait we inherit from out parents. It is believed that crossed neural pathways between the eyes and the nose, mouth, and chest cause sun sneezing. Bright light should make the pupils constrict, but for the photic sensitive, it does so much more! Achooo!

So are you a sun sneezer? Let me know in the comments section below.

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