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Why do I sneeze when I look at the sun?

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
The culprit: The photic sneeze reflex, which usually causes more than one sneeze and occurs in approximately 10 to 25 percent of the population. This genetic trait is thought to occur due to an accidental crossing of third nerve signals in your brain at the fifth cranial nerve nucleus (remember that next time you're playing Trivial Pursuit). If you have a parent who is a sun sneezer, you have a fifty percent chance of being a sun sneezer as well.
YOU: The Owner's Manual, Updated and Expanded Edition: An Insider's Guide to the Body that Will Make You Healthier and Younger

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YOU: The Owner's Manual, Updated and Expanded Edition: An Insider's Guide to the Body that Will Make You Healthier and Younger

Between your full-length mirror and high-school biology class, you probably think you know a lot about the human body. While it's true that we live in an age when we're as obsessed with our bodies as...

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.