Do you know Achoo syndrome? This strange disease is not common: it causes, in the person who suffers from it, attacks of sneezing… triggered by exposure to the sun! Update on this disease.
Although sneezing in direct sunlight may seem surprising, this syndrome actually affects a large part of the population: one in five people suffer from the famous heliotropic sneezing syndrome (also called Photosternutatory reflex).
As soon as she leaves her house, the young woman sneezes
When talking about her daily life on TikTok, Sarah Allison, a young American, did not expect to receive so many comments.
She, who thought she was suffering from a “trivial” symptom, realized that she was suffering from a strange genetic disease: heliotropic sneezing, heliotrophic sneezing, or even ACHOO (Autosomal dominant Compelling Helio-Ophthalmic Outburst).
This very particular syndrome – which triggers uncontrollable sneezing in the person affected by it – is not the result of chance: if one of the parents is affected by this syndrome, the child thus has a one in two chance to inherit it.
An illness, which the young woman discusses without taboo on the networks.
“Do you want to see this strange genetic disease that I suffer from and about 20% of the population has it? Let me show you“Sarah said in an online video.
One in 5 people would be affected
She then walks out of her house, into the sunlight, and feels an intense need to sneeze.
Do you have ACHOO?
♬ original sound – Malibutoast
“Light triggers a photoreflex, which means when I see light, I sneeze,” she said, adding that this usually happens in direct sunlight. “Sometimes when I’m driving, I I start sneezing and I can’t stop.”she concludes.
A reaction that is not automatic for the young girl,”It’s not every time I’m exposed to direct sunlight“, she specifies, but which still happens several times a day.
A reflex that originates in the brain
According to various studies, this photo-sternutatory reflex is transmitted autosomal dominantly (if one of the two parents is affected then their children have a one in two chance of being affected too).
“Of genetic origin, the heliotropic sneeze results from a short circuit between the cranial nerves. When the optic nerve is stimulated, the trigeminal nerve is also stimulated and therefore we sneeze. Although this reflex may seem harmless, it can present a risk depending on the profession.“, notes Dr. Kierzek.
Some studies have thus assessed the risk for car drivers and even fighter plane pilots. Moreover, there is currently no solution to cure it. The only possible treatment? Wear sunglasses.