Sun Sneezing / Photic Sneezing

Sun sneezing is sneezing that occurs when you go into the sun or bright lights. It is also known as photic sneezing and it is common in babies.This pages answers these questions:

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What is sun (photic) sneezing?

It is a reflex response where the baby or child sneezes when exposed to sunlight. It is also known as photic sneezing so they refer to the same thing.

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Who gets photic sneezing?

It is said to occur in 10-30% of the population and runs in families. It occurs more in people of European descent than in those of African or Asian descent.

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Why does photic sneezing occur?

Most people believe that signals from the brain are mixed up so that signals telling the brain there is light end up telling the body to sneeze.

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Should I be worried if my baby has photic sneezing?

No. It is not harmful and it doesn't mean your baby has a cold or other infection.

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Should I be worried if my baby has repeated sneezing?

No. Often the photic sneezing reflex will cause consecutive sneezes, not just one sneeze.

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Is this the same as the ACHOO syndrome?

Yes. ACHOO stands for Autosomal dominant Compelling HelioOphthalmic Outburst - it's just a fancy name for sun sneezing!

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References

  • Whitman BW, Packer RJ. "The photic sneeze reflex: literature review and discussion." Neurology. May 1993, 43(5):868-71
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Photic_sneeze_reflex

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Last reviewed 6 June 2011

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Dr Maud MD

Dr Maud MD (MBChB, FRACP, FRCPCH), a specialist pediatrician, provides health information and medical advice for parents of babies and toddlers. Read more about Dr Maud.


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