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robmandu's avatar

Do you also sneeze in bright sunlight?

Asked by robmandu (21293points) May 28th, 2008

Well, any bright light really. It’s called the photic sneeze reflex or naso-ocular reflex. Not a 100% thing with me, but when it happens, like sometimes when I go outside, it’s obviously the sunlight hitting my face that triggers it.

I’ve even noticed that if I feel a sneeze coming on, but it’s being elusive, like it might not happen, I can look directly at any light source to bring it on out.

Oh, and it’s genetic, too.

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16 Answers

Jbor's avatar

No, can’t say I do.

wildflower's avatar

Definitely get the watery eyes, but the nose acting up is more when there’s a drastic change in temperature (like getting out of a warm car on a frosty day).
Also, I’m sure I’ve been told as a kid to look at the light if I need to bring out a sneeze.
Never knew it was a genetic thing, just thought it was the weather or spending too much time indoors.

DeezerQueue's avatar

When I saw the sunlight thing somewhere else, I thought the same thing. My son has it as well. I also have an urge to sneeze if I bend over. I also wondered if it was genetic because of the fact that my son has it as well. My husband does not, nor do any of his family members because it’s specifically come up before, it was too strange a thing not to bring up.

jrpowell's avatar

Same thing here. When I need to sneeze but can’t, I only have to look at a bright light to let one out.

chris's avatar

I definitely have this. It’s the change in light conditions that does it to me, but it’s basically 100% if I go out from a dark room on a bright day.

AstroChuck's avatar

It ‘s a defense mechanism. Sneezing makes you close your eyes and protects your corneas. Makes it kind of hard to stare directly at the sun. Also messing with your nose can let to sneezing as well.

DeezerQueue's avatar

I hate it when I can’t have a large sneeze, I feel so cheated. Usually I have this tiny, little sneeze that literally sounds like “choo.” When I have a big sneeze it feels like an orgasm in my nose, a really great feeling that I wish I could get more of.

AstroChuck's avatar

Wow! I never knew sneezing could be so erotic. I think I’ll read that again. Slowly, this time.

DeezerQueue's avatar

I often wondered if others felt that way about sneezing. It’s like this wonderful build up, a tingling that starts small, then spreads and amplifies until it bursts into the sneeze. I’d be be pushing it to say there was an after glow, although I do relish it for a few moments afterwards.

bearfair's avatar

I get that too, usually going from inside to outside. Sometimes, though, it happens when I’m driving and turn the corner into bright sunlight. That’s kind of scary.

@astrochuck- I read a different explanation somewhere; it said that the optic nerve is closely associated with the part of your brain that makes you sneeze. So, when the optic nerve is suddenly over-stimulated by a lot of bright light, some of that stimulation goes to the sneezing part of your brain. That kind of sounds like bullshit to me, and I can’t even remember where I read it. However! When I go out into bright light, I sneeze a couple times and then I’m fine, like my eyes (or optic nerve) have adjusted to the light, so the thing about over-stimulation and relief by sneezing does kind of make sense to me. Has anybody heard this explanation before?

wildflower's avatar

It can be somewhat gratifying, although when it comes to sneezing, it’s just annoying when it won’t stop and you have multiple-sneezes…...

cheebdragon's avatar

I can sneeze in the dark right now, but thats because i have a cold (oh the joys of parenting…...)

syz's avatar

I have exactly the same experience. There’s some additional information at

Harp's avatar

I don’t know if this is a related phenomenon or not, but I discovered that I can abort a sneeze by closing my eyes and rolling my eyeballs back as far as I can. If I do this when I first feel the sneeze coming on and just hold it til the urge passes, it always works. And yes, I’m a sun sneezer. I also agree with DeezerQueue that sneezes are one of life’s unsung pleasures. I only use my patented eye-roll-sneeze-stifle in awkward situations (e.g. concerts), otherwise I just let ‘er rip and enjoy.

autumnofage's avatar

I almost never sneeze unless I have a bright light to look at. Summer time I’m always sneezing unlike winter since the sun is around more

cheebdragon's avatar

sometimes if you touch the tip of your nose with something that’s really cold, it can make you sneeze.
I figured this out last year because I couldn’t sneeze for like 2 weeks, it was horrible! I felt like I had to sneeze the entire time but I couldn’t actually sneeze!

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