Does the light make you sneeze? Don’t worry, there are more people like you

It happens almost every week: I leave the portal of my house and, the moment my face crosses the border where the shadow of the portal gives way to direct sunlight, a tingling appears that arises near the eyes and s ‘advances up to the nose and eventually becomes one or more sneezes.

This has happened to me since having memory problems, usually when I have been in the shade for a long time and suddenly find myself in strong sunshine. It took me many years to learn that this phenomenon is nothing like “sun allergy” what he thought he had, what is called a bright light sneeze reflex, or photico sneeze, and which is embedded in the DNA of many people: 18% to 35% of the population experience it .

The false allergy to the sun.

The idea that strange stimuli produce the uncontrollable urge to sneeze is often directly associated with types of allergies. Perhaps this is why some people believe that their propensity to sneeze right after coming in direct contact with a strong light source is due to some kind of weird allergy, which doesn’t serve to explain why they need to. sneeze at the moment of being sneezed. illuminated and not as long as they stay under that light source.

Other people don’t even stop to wonder if sneezing from the light is weird or not; they take it for granted that this happens to everyone, and when they first notice that others are hit by their sneezes from the light, they wonder if they are playing a joke on them.

Both possibilities are very reasonable, because the propensity for photic sneezing is a minority feature enough to be considered odd but, at the same time, it is not so much of a problem as to be regarded as a disease. Perhaps the reflection of sneezing in bright light can be a bit bothersome on the rare occasion it is expressed, but it is not a form of sun allergy.

What is fotico sneezing?

The photic sneeze reflex is a genetically inherited trait which results in the onset of the urge (automatic and involuntary) to sneeze when the facial area is suddenly exposed to an intense light source.

It should be borne in mind that what produces these sneezes is not so much the intense light itself as the contrast felt between the shaded area it is previously in and the area exposed to direct light in which it is. find. This is why this false “sun allergy” only expresses itself during the first few seconds or minutes after moving to a well-lit place.

The causes of photico sneezing

The reflection phenomenon of photico sneezing is relatively common, as it could affect a third of the population, but even more research is needed on the subject to find out what triggers these sneezes.

Of course, the possible causes of the photico sneeze reflex are being investigated. The one that has the most acceptance is the one that has to do with the trigeminal nerve, one of the cerebral nerves that originate directly from the brain without going through the spinal cord that runs through the spine.

This set of neurons serves both to inform the brain of what is happening in other parts of the body and of the channel through which the brain transmits commands to other organs. Specifically, one of the tasks of the trigeminal nerve is to detect signs of irritation in the nose to start the procedures necessary to start sneezing immediately after.

In people who have inherited the photic sneeze reflex, the trigeminal nerve might be closer to the normal eye nerve in each half of the face, so that it “intercepts” information and confuses it with data from the eye. nose. So, when switched to a sudden exposure to intense light, the trigeminal nerve would take this wave of sensory data as an indication that something is going on in the nose; hence the sneezing.

Is it dangerous to have this reflex?

Currently, the only context in which photographic sneezing is considered potentially dangerous is flying fighter jets..

The rest of the people can be limited to providing an extra precaution while driving, For example wearing sunglasses and celebrating the little eccentricities in our body.

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