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Can Bright Light Make You Sneeze?

achoo syndrome effect

Story at-a-glance -

  • Autosomal dominant compelling helio-ophthalmic outburst syndrome (ACHOOs), aka photic sneezing syndrome, occurs when sudden bright light causes someone to sneeze
  • Photic sneezing is a reflex that’s recently stepped back into the scientific spotlight, but it’s a phenomenon that Aristotle wrote and conjectured about in the 3rd century
  • Science reveals that individuals with photic sneezing tend to have above-average intelligence. It’s also genetic; the gene is neither X nor Y, but if one parent has the syndrome, half of his or her children will, too
  • Further studies of the mechanisms causing photic sneezing may be helpful because seizures and migraines are often precipitated by flashing light

By Dr. Mercola

Pepper can make you sneeze. So can a cold, cat dander and dust. But bright light from the sun, a flash photo or a flashlight beamed in your eyes? That might be a new one, to some, but not to 18 to 35 percent of the population.

I happen to be one of them, although mostly when I was young. Nearly every time I would go outside I would sneeze once. It hasn't happened for quite some time since I radically improved my diet and health but I always wondered why it happened.


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