Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Photic sneeze reflex

Do you have to sneeze when looking into bright sunlight? Involuntary sneezing when being exposed to bright light after adapting to the dark is called the photic sneeze reflex. The syndrome was first described in 1978, and seems to be much more common than has been generally recognized. It is believed to be inherited, but identification of the specific genes involved has not been made yet. If you want to sneeze for science, you can do so at UCSF.


And no, I don't.

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

why pink?

Bee said...

I have my girly moments.

Chris said...

Well actually I've always believed that it is caused by the bright light making your eyes water, which then drains into your nose, causing you to sneeze.

On reflection I suppose the eyes watering under bright light could be genetic.

stefan said...

Dear Bee,

that's interesting :-) I am a male sneezer, and I've always thought that it's completely natural to have the "autosomal dominant compelling helio-ophthalmic outburst syndrome" - what a name! So it really amazes me that this syndrome was described only in 1978 ;-).

Best, Stefan

Rae Ann said...

Maybe it's a guy thing. I don't do that either.

Bee said...

err, if you look at the results please subtract one from 'female, and yes I do' and add one to 'female, and no I don't' because I accidentally voted for the wrong option. best,

B. (confuzzled)

Bee said...

Coincidentally, the How-to of the day is

How to Stop a Sneeze

Mum said...

Hi Bee,may be it's inherited. Your mum also doesn't sneeze. Did not yet ask your brother!
Best Mum

CarlBrannen said...

Shouldn't there be an entry for "I like to push the top button in polls."

Bee said...

Hi Carl,

Yeah, in fact, I too have had this concern. Unfortunately, it wasn't possible to start with all boxes unchecked. Had I thought ahead, I should have reversed the order. Hopefully will keep it in mind next poll. Best,

B.

ChickenBreeder said...

This might as well be a bogus poll, but from its results Bee has successfully determined that the male:female ratio of the readership of this blog is about 7:1. Note that the first two options combined is equivalent to "I am male", while the third and fourth together is nothing but "I am female".

And I wonder if the small number of people who chose the 5th are confused about sneezing or their sexual identity?

Bee said...

Hi Chickenbreeder, well, yes, I admit you've found out the actual reason for the poll... but probably one should rescale it to 'people who do polls on blogs' not to readership in general. Best,

B.

CarlBrannen said...

They should also have a button for those who hit the "vote" button before choosing a box because they expect to get a choice afterwards.

Maybe the best way would be to have the top, default, choice be a null or invalid choice.

Adhib said...

This was one of the frustrating mysteries of my childhood. Adults could not explain why I was suffering this patently useless reflex. It was only as an IT serf in a publishing company that I finally encountered the concept of 'cross-traffic' in data cabling - sudden bursts of data along one cable lying next to another underinsulated cable and ... ka-boom!

vinouz said...

That's funny because I have a different reflex of the same kind. Whenever something titillates my ear, like a cotton swab, I feel an almost irrepressible urge to cough !

That's weird, but funny.

Courtney Alyse said...

I am female and i have always had this. photic sneeze thing. it NEVER fails! sometimes i look outside just to get it over with. it seems to be more common in males. I hope they find out what exactly does cause it. i do indeed believe it is more so because of the crossing btw the 5th cranial nerve and the optic nerves. like every other dysfunction.. its mostly genetic

Anonymous said...

I'm male and sneeze, my brother and father are also sneezers, but both of my male children (now teenagers) are sneezers. As it turns out, I did not discover my sneezing at the sunlight until I was a late teenager. Hmmm....

My sister does not sneeze. Maybe male/female. Also, the vote button didn't work just now.

osearth said...

its the opposite of a yawn.. only natural light is the sun.
its brain telling our pack that we're awake now.

Mine only sneezes when i see the light at the top of my retinas.
-osearth