Have you ever needed to sneeze but weren't able to no matter how far you focused on trying to? If you've ever complained about not being able to sneeze, someone may have suggested that you look up at a bright light or the sun to get the sneeze out.

This works for some, but why?

According to Charlotte Eye Ear Nose & Throat Associates, up to a third of the population can trigger sneezes by simply looking into a bright light. This reaction has two names, Photic Sneeze Reflex, the second is ACHOO syndrome.

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Diana Polekhina Via Unsplash
Diana Polekhina Via Unsplash

Why Does Looking Into Light Make You Sneeze?

Scientists believe that the closeness of the optic nerve to the trigeminal nerve, the nerve responsible for facial sensations and movements, is what causes this reaction. This can be convenient for anyone needing a little help sneezing.

When the optic nerve senses sudden bright light, it constricts the eye’s pupils. For those with ACHOO syndrome, doctors believe this signal is misinterpreted by the trigeminal nerve, causing a sneeze.

What Are The Dangers Of These Reactions?

However, there are some instances when a sneeze being triggered by light can be inconvenient. When most people sneeze they freeze for a moment and close their eyes which can pose serious issues for drivers and pilots since it typically happens all of a sudden without warning. The good news is that ACHOO symptoms or reactions can be prevented by just wearing a pair of sunglasses.

While a sneeze denied is frustrating, recurring fits of sneezing are an unwelcome and even dangerous purge of nasal irritation

If you are ever concerned that you are sneezing too frequently you should contact your ENT doctor and see if you have an underlying allergy problem and what options you may have to treat them.

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