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Does the light make you sneeze? Quiet, there are more people like you

Does the light make you sneeze? Quiet, there are more people like you

May 9, 2021

It happens almost every week: I leave the portal of my house and, just as my face crosses the border in which the shadow of the goal gives way to the direct light of the Sun, a tingling appears that comes near the eyes and advances to the nose to end up becoming one or several sneezes.

It has happened to me since I have memory use, usually when I have been in the shade for a long time and suddenly I am exposed to intense sunlight. It took me many years to know that this phenomenon is nothing like "sun allergy" that he thought he had, that he's called Sneezing reflex by bright light, or sneezing, and that is fixed in the DNA of many people: from 18% to 35% of the population experience it.


False allergy to the Sun

The idea that strange stimuli produce the uncontrollable need to sneeze is usually directly associated with the types of allergies. Perhaps because of this, some people believe that their propensity to sneeze right after coming into direct contact with a strong light source is due to a strange kind of allergy, something that does not explain why they need to sneeze at the time of being illuminated and not during the entire time in which they are kept under that source of light.

Other people do not even stop to think about whether sneezing because of the light is something strange or not; They take it for granted that it happens to everyone, and when they notice for the first time that others notice their sneezing because of the light, they wonder if they are playing a joke.


Both possibilities are very reasonable, since the propensity to the phthic sneeze is a characteristic minority enough to be considered strange but, at the same time, it does not give so many problems as to be considered something similar to a disease. The sneezing reflex by bright light may be somewhat annoying on the rare occasions when it is expressed, but it is not a form of allergy to sunlight.

What is phsy sneezing?

The reflection of the phthic sneeze is a genetically inherited characteristic that is expressed in the appearance of the impulse (automatic and involuntary) of sneezing when the area of ​​the face happens to be exposed suddenly to a source of intense light.

It is necessary to keep in mind that what produces these sneezes is not so much the intense light itself as the contrast that is experienced between the area with shadows in which it has been before and the area exposed to the direct light in which it is after. That is why this false "sun allergy" is only expressed during the first seconds or minutes after having passed to a well-lit place.


The causes of the phthic sneeze

The phenomenon of the reflex of the sneeze fótico is relatively common, since it could affect a third of the population, but in spite of that still it is necessary to investigate more on the subject to know what it is what triggers these sneezes.

Of course, possible causes of the reflection of the phthic sneeze are considered. The one with greater acceptance is one that has to do with the trigeminal nerve, one of the cerebral nerves that come directly from the brain without passing through the spinal cord that runs along the spine.

This set of neurons fulfills the function of both informing the brain of things that occur in other parts of the body and channel through which the brain transmits orders to other organs. Specific, one of the tasks of the trigeminal nerve is to detect signs of irritation in the nose to start the necessary procedures to start sneezing right after.

In people who have inherited the reflection of the photic sneeze, the trigeminal nerve could be closer to the normal of the ocular nerve of each half of the face, so that it "intercepts" information from it and mistakes it for data coming from the nose . In this way, when one goes to a sudden exposure to intense light, the trigeminal nerve would be taking this wave of sensory data as an indication that something is happening in the nose; hence the sneezing.

Is it dangerous to have this reflection?

Currently, the only context in which it is considered that the phsy sneeze is potentially dangerous is in the piloting of combat aircraft.

The rest of us can limit ourselves to provide extra caution when driving , for example wearing sunglasses, and celebrating the small eccentricities of our organism.


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