synaesthesia and sun sneezing

a few weeks ago a friend of mine told me about synaesthesia, a rare condition in which a stimulus received in one sensory modality gives rise to an experience in another. althought it sounds like LSD or fiction, there seems to be a good deal of evidence suggesting that some people can actually do things such as seeing sound or smelling light.

it was just today that i discovered that i am possibly one of these people. i have a very strong tendancy to sneeze when i'm going from an indoor to an outdoor environment. because i spend a good portion of my day in front of a computer, i've joked that i'm "allergic to outside". but after reading that about 25% of people sneeze when exposed to sunlight, i suspect that sunlight is actually the cause of my own sneezing. this also makes me wonder if there might be a relationship between sun sneezing and anosmia.

neither synaesthesia nor sun sneezing have been researched much at all, unfortunately. this kind of phenomenon is so contradictory to how we normally think of the physical world that i would think it has great potential to drastically improve our understanding of a wide variety of scientific issues.

 
 
 
You sneeze when you look at the sun because your body is telling you to "STOP IT", Looking at the sun can damage your eyes and your body treats the strong light as a stimulous (that brings about the effect of sneezing, to protect your eyes.)
 
 
 
 
Yea i sneeze when i go outside after being inside all day or in school all day. However it only happens on bright days or if it is overcast and i look to where the sun should be. I have done it for as long as i can remember. Very few people believe me and it kind of annoys me. One person told me to say or think of bananas when i feel like i have to sneeze(which sounds kind of fruity)--no pun intended. so i would just like some more info on sun sneezing.
 
 
 
 
I sneeze every time I go into the sun. I just found out that it could be hereditary. My daughter does it too. I'm not sure if my parents do it. No one ever believed me when I said the sun made me sneeze. I'm glad to know I wasn't crazy all this time.
 
 
 
 
You sneeze when you look at the sun because your body is telling you to "STOP IT", Looking at the sun can damage your eyes and your body treats the strong light as a stimulous (that brings about the effect of sneezing, to protect your eyes.)

Sorry but I sneeze in the light, you dont' have to look at the sun to sneeze. just being exposed to the light will do it, and i'm one of the rare people that will also sneeze on a cloudy overcast day as well.
 
 
 
 
I have the same experience. I know I inherited it from my father because he does the exact same thing when he steps outdoors. Just to be clear, I do not have to look at the sun directly. I can just be exposed to the light out of the corner of my eye and I will sneeze even on cloudy days. I've also done some non-scientific surveys of people who have the condition and have found that all of them have blue, green, or hazel eyes. I have never met out of 100 or so people that I have talked to a brown eyed person that sneezes because of the sun.
 
 
 
 
Tim, I have brown eyes. Maybe I'm the exception to your survey. I definitely don't look direclty at the sun when I sneeze, but I'd guess that nine out of ten times I sneeze, I'm standing in bright sunlight.
 
 
 
 
Both my daughter and I are light/sun sneezers. We have just discovered we are also possibly synethetes - it would be fun to say we sneeze in colour, but afraid not...!
 
 
 
 
My mom, myself and my daughter are all sun sneezers. We don't think anything about it, just normal for us. I rarely sneeze at any other time, and if I feel a sneeze coming on, I look up at a bright light and that will always prompt the sneeze. If there is no bright light available, I will usually be unable to sneeze.
 
 
 
 
I'm a brown-eyed sun sneezer. I too don't have to look directly at the sun for it to happen. Happens when it's overcast and if I feel a sneeze coming on just a glance up into a light of any kind will bring on the sneeze. I actually enjoy it. Kind of a release.
 
 
 
 
When its a hot day I purposely sun sneeze becaus ei think its a nice feeling in the nose
 
 
 
 
I sneeze as well when I look into bright light, I thought everybody do the same thing as well, but I just found out that this only happens to about 25% of people, btw I'm a red/green color blind, do you all also have the same problem? I just want to know
 
 
 
 
I find that I light/sun sneeze more when there are more particulates in the air. If there is a breeze, high pollin count, or smoke etc. I can just go from a dark room to a light room and my nose will start to tickel. Of course after that if I don't find a bright light to look at I can't sneeze. I find when I am in a more dry desert climate I sneeze less. I am a caucasian male (3/4 German, 1/4 welsh) with blue/hazel eyes. My son is also light/sun sneezer. He has brown eyes and is half asian (chinese/korean). I like Sudarmin (comment#11) am red/green color blind. I also have a hard time with blues and purples. Its nice to find people like me out there.
 
 
 
 
My parents never did it. I never knew it existed so, I never told anyone. When people say: what does the clouds look like?, I couldn't answer because I couldn't look up without sneezing (unless it is night). I would sneeze when the light from lamps got too bright also.
 
 
 
 
Yes i too sneeze when I look at the sun
 
 
 
 
I sneeze when I walk outside and bright light hits me between the eyes. I don't have to look at the sun, just have my face in range. I can also coax out a lurking sneeze by looking directly at a light. It doesn't have to be a particularly bright light, as I've accomplished this feat with a fairly dim fluorescent bulb. I think the pineal gland may be somehow involved. I think it is also, sometimes referred to as the third eye. I am NO scientist, this is just my own little theory.

I am a light eyed; greenish - blue, natural blonde. I actually have a kind of yellow ring around the pupils.

Ethnicity = in fairly equal percentages, Irish, English, Scottish, Dutch, French, Belgian, German, Austrian, Croatian, Bohemian, Czech. I am, of course, an American.

I cringe at bright sunlight and need sunglasses anytime I'm outside, and often wear them indoors, as well; particularly in glarey store environs. Sometimes when I'm driving, during the day, I'll check to make sure I am actually wearing my dark shades, and not just my regular glasses, as it feels like I am not.

Inside, I need a lot of light to work. I spent a number of years in front of a computer and I think that somehow messed with my light receptors.

At night I usually sleep with at least one light on. This is not only to avoid killing myself by stumbling over a cat or a dog, but most importantly because if I have to get up in the night and use the bathroom, when I switch on a light from pitch blackness, I actually experience profound pain in my eyes and head for several minutes, until my eyes can adjust. And we're talking about switching on a 15 watt fluorescent bulb, nothing very bright. However, if I sleep with a light on, and wake in the night, I'm fine.

I can actually sleep with multiple hundred watt bulbs switched on; as well as a sound machine, television, radio. It's a bit scary. I do not wake easily. I've read that you SHOULD sleep in the dark as your body needs that time to create melatonin, but I really do not like it. I am talking serious PAIN.

Oh, and especially for those of you who are light eyed, and everyone else, as well, the sun can, and will, seriously damage your eyes, just as it can damage your skin. Ophthalmologists do recommend that people protect their eyes from sunlight.

And while I'm rambling on here, I had a HORRIBLE contact lens related eye infection several years ago, which actually scarred one of my corneas. It pretty much cured me of wearing contacts.

A few years later I had another eye infection, which was not nearly so serious or painful. However, I worked in a place which had an old warehouse in the back. It was lit, throughout, with 8 foot fluorescent bulbs. When I walked through the warehouse and looked up, I could see the full spectrum of light (yep, ROYGBIV) surrounding each bulb. I don't think that was a good or normal thing, but I promise, it is true.

Oh, just one more thing. People with light eyes are descended from people who came from northern climates. Think ice and snow. The eyes are lighter in color to maximize sunlight absorption. For people with darker eyes, the opposite holds true. Somehow, it's all related.

Thanks for the chance to jabber about myself.

Darcy
 
 
 
 
I don't know about the rest of you sun sneezers, but when I do it it feels amazing. I'll often try to entice one out by looking at a light source at the right angle. I'd say the feeling is second only to an orgams?
 
 
 
 
Sneezing is also caused by the position of the had that modifies the way air circulates, thus accelerating a "retarded" sneeze. Try looking up with your eyes closed and see what happens.
 
 
 
 
My whole family are sun-sneezers - my father, all six kids, most(all?) of the grandkids.

I have brown eyes, and usually sneeze twice when moving outdoors into bright sunlight. (As a child I almost always sneezed three times. The reduction to two is a big improvement.)

When my son first demonstrated this behavoir as a toddler, we all joked that his paternity could not be doubted. :-)
 
 
 
 
Na, Na, Na, 19... I allways sneeze 3 times when leaving the dark and transend into the light. I often justified my lifestyle by saying "you see... I must be nocturnal". My GrandFather sneezes the same as I. Does this have anything to do with autism or genius?
 
 
 
 
Allergic to the outside and capital letters, eh?
 
 
 
 
Roberta A. Pagon, a professor of pediatrics at the University of
Washington, explains.

Reflexive sneezing induced by light, and sunlight in particular, is
estimated to occur in 18 to 35 percent of the population and is known
as the photic sneeze reflex (PSR) or the ACHOO (autosomal dominant
compulsive helio-ophthalmic outbursts of sneezing) syndrome. Its
genetic nature has been known for at least the last 25 years; it is
periodically discussed in the medical literature and lay press.
Observations that emerging from dim light into sunlight or turning to
face directly into the sun commonly triggers the reflex prompted early
inquiries into the trait. The number of induced sneezes--which seems
to be genetically mediated and can be predicted within a family--is
constant from episode to episode and typically numbers two or
three..."

Another explanantion of this can be fouind here:
http://www2.abc.net.au/science/k2/stn-archive1/posts/topic4102.shtm

"...This is known as a "photic sneeze". It is an inherited (i.e.
genetic) characteristic affecting about 18-35% of the population.
Basically, it occurs because the reflexes of the nose and eyes are
closely related. Both the eyes and nose are served by the same cranial
nerve, and the signals sometimes cross over. It's just like when you
pull a hair out of your nose - it makes your eyes water, because the
stimulus (pain) in the nose has caused a reflex in your eyes. When you
look into a bright light, your eyes send a signal to your brain saying
that there's too much light, and your brain responds by making you
constrict your pupils and squint to limit the amount of light going
into your eyes. Because of the crossing-over of signals, though, the
brain also gets a message that your nose is being irritated too, so it
also makes you reflexively sneeze..."
 
 
 
 
I'm a colour-grapheme synaesthete and sun-sneezer. I emailed a synaesthesia about a possible connection between the two and he thought it sounded reasonable.
 
 
 
 
Sorry, I meant to say I emailed a synaesthesia researcher.
 
 
 
 
Photic sneeze reflex is a medical condition by which people sneeze with sudden exposure to bright light, and possibly also sneeze many times consecutively. It is also referred to as photic sneeze response, sun sneezing, photogenic sneezing, the photosternutatory reflex, being photo sensitive, or even whimsically as ACHOO syndrome with its related backronym Autosomal dominant Compelling Helio-Ophthalmic Outburst syndrome. The condition occurs in 17% to 35% of humans. The condition is passed along genetically as an autosomal dominant trait.

The first mention of the phenomenon is probably in the later work attributed to Aristotle (Problems, book XXXIII).

The probable cause is a congenital malfunction in nerve signals in the trigeminal nerve nuclei. The fifth cranial nerve, called the trigeminal nerve, is apparently responsible for sneezes. Research suggests that some people have an association between this nerve and the nerve that transmits visual impulses to the brain. Overstimulation of the optic nerve triggers the trigeminal nerve, and this causes the photic sneeze reflex (persons familiar with data cable insulation issues would understand this undesigned stimulus as "crosstalk").

Another theory suggests that tears leaking into the nose through the nasolacrimal duct are a cause of the photic sneeze reflex. The speed of the reflex seems to favor the first theory, as it happens much too quickly for tears to be generated and drain into the nose. In addition this sneeze reflex can be brought on by a sudden inhaling of cold air or a strong flavor such as a strong mint gum. This implies an overstimulation of any nerve close to the trigeminal nerve can cause the sneeze reflex.

While this phenomenon is poorly understood, recent research has shown that antihistamines being used to treat rhinitis due to seasonal allergies may also reduce the occurrence of solar sneezes in those people suffering from both conditions.
 
 
 
 
i fart when i look into the sun. do you think that i'm similarly afflicted?
 
 
 
 
I often sneeze while looking at a bright light, but not all the time.... my family starts counting sneezes - sometimes it is only 3, but it is often in the 11-19 sneezes in a row range :\

it starts to hurt after a while lol
 
 
 
 
I've had sun sneezes my whole life -- I first noticed in grade school when I sneezed every time I left the building for recess. My father gets them too, but my mother never believed him until I came along and we started sneezing in unison every time we left a building! It's usually 3, but if I go past three it will be at least 7 or 8. It DOES start to hurt after a while, but it's still an amazing release that feels incredible. My Dad's record is 16!
 
 
 
 
I have sun sneezes to!I useto think I was a vampire.I agree it is an amasing relese. Every time I walk out I look a little toward the sun. Normaly it happens on sunny days but it has happend on cloudy days to. visiting this site has made me feel alot beter. THANK YOU!!!
 
 
 
 
I've had sun sneezes as long as I can remember although I never knew it had a name. I just thought i was weird lol. It's cool to know lots of people have it. Some people say they are also color blind. I don't think I'm color blind even though my ophthalmologist says I am. I've never noticed anything off with colors.

But then again if I've lived my whole life being told the top light on a traffic light is red and the bottom light is green i suppose that when i look at green it might not look the same to me as it does to other people but i would still know its name as green. I don't know if that makes sense but....oh well.

I have light blue/green eyes and i also wear glasses I don't know if having bad eyes has anything to do with it but maybe having weak muscles around the eyes might have something to do with the signals being crossed.

P.S. I also thought i might be a vampire.....or at least half.
 
 
 
 
I am typical sun sneezer like everyone else here. One time I sneezed for 45 minutes straight looking up at the sun (not into the sun) to help each and every one of those beautiful sneezes along. It felt great for a couple of minutes and then it was painful.
Amother way I can force a sneeze is to pluck an eyebrow hair. This will cause a 4 to 5 sneeze session guarranteed. My sneezes are so forceful, my wife will jump out of her socks and hold her hands over her ears. I really don't think they are that loud, but everyone has a sarcastic comment to tell me whenever I sneeze. KerCHOO!
 
 
 
 
I am also a sun sneezer, although my problem is that I can't sneeze at all without being exposed to light. If I get that tickling/itching feeling in my nose and there is no light source then it is very miserable for me. I agree with the previous poster that when it does trigger it is an amazing feeling second only to an orgasm. I also believe that it has something to do with the heat related to the light sources, because a neon light, which typically does not emit much heat, will not trigger a sneeze for me. I don't think that eye color has anything to do with it. I have blue eyes, one of my sons who also experiences PSR has hazel eyes, and I have a nephew who experiences PSR who has brown eyes. I would like to know if there is any medical research that links the heat related to the light source to PSR as well.
 
 
 
 
I am betting it dates back to when we were living in caves. We exit the cave, the sun hits us, we sneeze and expell all the nasty dust and dirt we had in our nasal passages. I am betting all animals that burrow do the same. 25% of us just haven't fully evolved yet.
 
 
 
 
yea this happens to me to i just looked it up to day and found out that it is called photic sneeze reflex aka(psr) look up this website. it helped me figure out my embaressing yet sometimes dangurous problem while driving. this is a genetic sydrome that has only been realy tested to a degree since 25 yrs ago. i hav to agree with comment 30 mine are exsplosive too and when i hav any extreme amount of pain on my head region like pluking an eyebrow or my hair gets pulled really hard i sneeve.my dad has it to and u dont want to be in a building when he sneezes because he has exsplosive sneeves too.
 
 
 
 
I wanted to know if any of you that have PSR, also have pineal cysts? I have been a light sneeze r all my life but was diagnosed with a pineal cyst this past year. I have always between sensitive to light and have grey eyes, very light, and red hair. I have noticed that I cannot tolerate strong light without it causing me pain in eyes and head and am mostly blind in darkness.just wondering?
 
 
 
 
Hello fellow sun sneezers! I never had name for it before, but that is certainly what it is.. I sneeze whenever i look at bright sunligh.,it never happens with bright lights though. I never gave it much thought until recently, and its also true that when i feel a sneeze coming on, all i have to do is look at the strong sunlight, and the sneeze happens, big tyme. How weird. I havent asked anyone else in my family if they experience it, that would be interesting to find out. thank you ! Heather....upstate n y
 
 
 
 
Hello fellow sun sneezers! I never had name for it before, but that is certainly what it is.. I sneeze whenever i look at bright sunlight.,it never happens with bright lights though. I never gave it much thought until recently, and its also true that when i feel a sneeze coming on, all i have to do is look at the strong sunlight, and the sneeze happens, big tyme. How weird. I havent asked anyone else in my family if they experience it, that would be interesting to find out. thank you ! Heather....upstate n y
 
 
 
 
Hello fellow sun sneezers! I never had name for it before, but that is certainly what it is.. I sneeze whenever i look at bright sunlight.,it never happens with bright lights though. I never gave it much thought until recently, and its also true that when i feel a sneeze coming on, all i have to do is look at the strong sunlight, and the sneeze happens, big tyme. How weird. I havent asked anyone else in my family if they experience it, that would be interesting to find out. thank you ! Heather....upstate n y
 
 
 
 
Hello fellow sun sneezers! I never had name for it before, but that is certainly what it is.. I sneeze whenever i look at bright sunlight.,it never happens with bright lights though. I never gave it much thought until recently, and its also true that when i feel a sneeze coming on, all i have to do is look at the strong sunlight, and the sneeze happens, big tyme. How weird. I havent asked anyone else in my family if they experience it, that would be interesting to find out. thank you ! Heather....upstate n y
 
 
 
 
I cannot believe that people are discussing such a ridiculous topic! I say: Get a hobby! Learn a language! Go for a walk! Take up the guitar! Help the needy! Get a job!
 
 
 
 
My boyfriend has this condition, which I noticed pretty quickly after I met him because we would be waking along in a sunny carpark with no shade and this would result in endless sneezing until we got inside.
For him, unnatural light can trigger a sneeze if it's bright enough too.
Sam has anosmia, with barely any sense of smell, only very very occasionally smelling something, at random to do with the brain wiring, not to do with how strong the smell is. Usually he doesn't like smelling any of the smells people mostly find pleasant, when he can smell them, because it's such an unusual and affronting thing for him.
He has hazel eyes, and there seems to be a lot of comment for all eye colours so I'm not sure about that light eye correlation, but anosmia connecting I would put money on, because the brain is confusing messages with the eyes and nose.
 
 
 
 
I would have to disagree on what Tanya said, because I happen to sneeze every time the sun is out. I don't stair at the sun, or even look at it! Even looking at a white car when the suns out makes me sneeze! I find that it is really hard to control the sneezing, I will sneeze over an over again then get a tingling filling at the top of my nostrils and inner part of my eye's.
 
 
 
 
Darcy Aug 26th 2007
Check out Irlen Syndrome
 

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