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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.


Ikandy Ikandy 9 years
I am.
bluesarahlou bluesarahlou 9 years
i'm a light sneezer....any kind of light will cause me to sneeze or help with one thats already coming... and i'd never try to stop a feels sooo good!
DeviousMuse DeviousMuse 9 years
I love that I have a name for this now! Okay, randomly, does anyone remember the episode of "Pete and Pete" (on Nickelodeon) where the younger Pete tries to get all of his friends to stay awake with him for 3 days or something? They're all doing fine as long as the sun is out, because they can look up to it and sneeze which helps them shake off the yawns, but the last day, its overcast and Pete, being the last one awake, falls asleep in his backyard? Yeah, probably just me.
mominator mominator 9 years
I am a sun sneezer. Never thought it was weird or anything though. Since I was a little girl on up to today if I feel a sneeze coming on that want come out I look up at the sun or the lights in a room to help me sneeze. Wow they have a name for everything these days. I thought this worked on everyone.
pebby01 pebby01 9 years
wow i never heard of that. that's pretty interesting!
kendallina kendallina 9 years
Interesting. To bring on a shy sneeze, I sniff the air. It's weird, but it always works for me.
elenoftroy elenoftroy 9 years
I am a sun sneezer, so is my father and so is my daughter!
Vampyre Vampyre 9 years
I'm a sun sneezer. It drives me mad sometimes!
ishop2much ishop2much 9 years
I am indeed a sun/bright light sneezer!
emalove emalove 9 years
I am pretty certain I am NOT a sun sneezer! I can't ever recall that happening to me.
Allytta Allytta 9 years
well, my mom tought my the way to stop sneezing before it occures, but you can feel it coming - is to masage the bridge of nose or the tip - both work for me all the time.
Allytta Allytta 9 years
wow. actually this article is the first time i've ever heard of a sun sneeze. gonna try that.
PrincessTracy PrincessTracy 9 years
OMG I thought I was the only one this happened to!!!
bluehippy bluehippy 9 years
nope! but everytime i look away from the pic is looks like it is coming towards me.
0danielle0 0danielle0 9 years
I am! That's so weird. Thanks for the info!
clouth clouth 9 years
OK, this is going to sound crazy but... When I was a kid, a friend told me that the best way to stop an impending sneeze was to stare into a bright light. I tried it and it worked. So ever since, when I feel a sneeze coming on, I look into a bright light (such as the sun), and it goes away. Hmmm...
nancita nancita 9 years
So good to finally hear an explanation for my sun sneezing. My brother does it too.
thedingo thedingo 9 years
People used to say I was "allergic" to the sun. I am a sun-sneezer as well. I'm glad I'm not alone! Yay me!
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