Why Does the Sun Cause Me to Sneeze?

For some, solar sneezes are nothing to sneeze at

Woman sneezing first thing in morning

Here comes the (achoo!) sun. Imagine stepping outside on a bright summer day only to sneeze over and over again.

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Actually, some people do it every time they see the sun, even in the dead of winter. Most sneeze several times in a row before it stops.

Why would someone sneeze at the sun?

Sneezing is a naso-expulsive response. The sneeze is to the nose what a cough is to the lung,” explains Allergy and Immunology Chairman David Lang, MD. “Solar sneezes are an exaggerated response that occurs with exposure to the light of the sun.”

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It all starts with crossed wires involving the trigeminal nerve, a facial nerve that innervates the eye and nose. When a bright light hits the eyes, the pupils constrict and ACHOO!  It can happen on initial exposure to the sun.

Although there is no specific treatment for solar sneezing, treating rhinitis in sneezers with hay fever sometimes, but not always, causes the tendency for sneezing to improve.

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