Thursday, August 15, 2013

Photic Sneeze Reflex

After growing up in the sunshine of Hawaii and being outdoors at least some time during the day, most days while living in California and now Colorado, about ten years ago I developed a photic sneeze reflex. What is this you may ask? It goes by a number of names including photoptarmosis, sun sneezing, and my favorite, Autosomal dominant Compelling Helio-Ophthalmic Outburst (ACHOO) syndrome.

Simply put, it’s sneezing when exposed to bright sunlight. It’s estimated that 18-35% of the population has this disorder. I say disorder only in the sense of it being irritating, but there is no serious problem with it unless you’re driving a vehicle and suddenly are wracked with sneezing.

I find that if I go from inside a car or house into bright sunlight without dark glasses and a hat, I will sneeze about three times. As mentioned above, I never had this when younger so don’t know why it started up as I approached geezerhood.

I’ve used this syndrome in one novel I’ve written.

Do you ever sneeze when exposed to bright sunlight?


Anonymous said...

Interesting to learn that you never had this reflex when younger. It runs (big time) in my family, but some find it diminishes as they get older. I haven't noticed any difference since when I was a kid. It's practically every time for me.

Anonymous said...

Good times at B's BDay yesterday.
When studying genetics in 10th grade I asked the teacher why I sneeze when I look toward the sun? She got really mad that I would be such a smart A and I was mortified. After class a fellow student admitted to having the same sun-induced sneezing. At which point I asked why he didn't speak up? Example of being more intelligent than teacher! Lifelong Special Sneezer

Mike Befeler, author of geezer-lit and paranormal mysteries said...

It's interesting how this affects some people. I never knew about a photic sneeze reflex until I did some research.