Do You Suffer From Photic Sneeze Reflex?

If you’re like me, you do. Although I never knew there was a specific name for it. And apparently we’re not alone. Approximately 10-to-35 percent of the population also suffers. Although, “suffer” may be too strong of a word.

If you sneeze when you look at the sun, you, too, are experiencing Photic Sneeze Reflex. It usually occurs when you leave a dark place, like a movie theater, and step out into the bright sunshine. I’ve experienced it ever since I was a baby. Once you sneeze, that’s it, back to normal. So it’s a seemingly harmless disorder. “It’s not a disease,” says University of California, San Francisco neurologist and human geneticist Louis Ptáček. “Some people find it annoying, but some people like it to some extent. They’ll say, ‘It helps me get a sneeze out.’”

It was referenced as early as the 4th century B.C. when the Greek philosopher Aristotle referenced the phenomenon. Although it wasn’t until 1954 when it was first mentioned in medical journals.  Some researchers have since applied the appropriate acronym ACHOO: Autosomal Dominant Compelling Helio-Ophthalmic Outburst Syndrome.


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