Why You Sneeze When You Look at the Sun

Naturally, an ordinary sneeze can be triggered by the needs of our body to get rid of irritants in the nose. But sneezing when exposed to bright light happens for a completely different reason. This condition even has a rather comic name — ACHOO syndrome.

5-Minute Crafts is ready to reveal the mystery of how the sun and bright light can trigger a row of sudden and successive sneezes in some people.

Genetics are to blame.

Ordinary sneezing can happen because of different allergies, a cold or the flu, medication, or air pollution. However, sneezing when you look at the sun happens for a different reason. It’s actually a genetic trait called photic sneeze reflex. It’s characterized by an outburst of uncontrollable sneezes when a person is exposed to light. Interestingly, artificial light and a flash of a camera can also trigger sneezing. People can inherit the photic sneeze reflex from their parents. For example, if your parent has this reflex, you have a 50% chance of having it too.

A change in lighting can cause sneezing.

Light itself doesn’t cause a photic sneeze. Instead, people with this reflex react to a change in light intensity, that stimulates nerves in the facial area. This means that when you sit in a bright, sun-lit area, you probably won’t start sneezing. However, this reflex can be triggered if you step out from a darkened room into direct sunlight.

Except for light, some more things can cause this condition:

  • Deviated septum (when the thin wall between the nostrils is displaced to one side)
  • Large meals
  • Spicy foods
  • Eye injections

You can minimize sneezing by covering your face.

This trait is not harmful to you and actually doesn’t bear any evolutionary function. While there are no medications to treat it, you can try to prevent this sneezing by wearing sunglasses, a scarf, or a hat before exposing yourself to light.

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