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Amaton

A "Stimulus Sneezing Reflex"?

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My entire life, I've had this peculiar relationship with a common food favorite -- chocolate.

 

Nearly every time I eat something with a lot of chocolate, there's a sneeze or two. Name any chocolate-rich treat, and if it goes into my mouth, I can't help but sneeze. This typically only happens with the first bite. After that, I can chunk down on it without any other noticeable effects.

 

The same happens with strong mint, and I'm sure I'm not the only one on this forum who has such a reaction to either or both. I used to think it was some very mild form of allergy, but upon research this is most likely not the case.

 

The conditions are allegedly related to a much more common phenomenon known as photic sneeze reflex, where affected individuals have an involuntary sneeze when suddenly exposed to a large amount of light, especially in regards to the face.

> http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=looking-at-the-sun-can-trigger-a-sneeze

 

While the above condition is actually relatively well studied, chocolate and other food-related reactions do not seem to be so well documented (but there are some sources, albeit nonscientific).

> http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2010/07/for-some-chocoholics-an-orgasm-of-the-face/59885/

 

Interestingly, all these anomalies seem to be related in that the individuals supposedly inherit these via a dominant trait, meaning that one or more biological family members are also likely to have it.

 

Well, I don't really have a question, but I thought this would be an interesting topic to bring up. Thoughts? Any similar circumstances to share?

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So a few years ago I started to notice a pattern that I have. I didn't really pay it much mind until about two years ago and then as I started to pay more attention I have narrowed it down to this.. Whenever I am hungry, my belly being empty, and I got to eat something, no matter what it is I am eating, as soon as I take the first bite and that that bite hits my empty stomach, I sneeze. Just one time. This does not happen if I am just snacking or eating because I am bored or something looks good, only with an empty stomach. It doesn't hurt me or hinder me in any way. I think it is just kind of odd. No one in my family does it. I have tried looking for some info about it on the internet and have found pretty much nothing useful to help explain why this happens. I read that some people sneeze when they get full but nothing about the other way around, as what happens with me. I have no known allergies. Some women reported it during pregnancy and the replies I saw were that it is just normal to sneeze more while pregnant. I've been pregnant more than once and this happens to me when I am pregnant and when I am not. I am not kidding. It happens every single time I'm hungry and only right after the first bite. I would love to know why my body reacts this way and will continue on my search. I am just getting to the point where I may have to just go to the grave with this weird crazy mystery reaction my body has to any type of food hitting the air in my tummy. Thanks for reading and if you happen to know anything at all about this, please enlighten me.

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Amaton: Sneezes obviously are intended to clear our upper respiratory tract or inturupt weddings and funerals but are violent, largely uncontrolled and dangerous to our eyes. The head moves violently and an eye can be put out. Natural selection provides a strong protective reflex. You cant sneeze with your eyes open! Try it next time you need to sneez Only a very few can train themselves to over ride this reflex.

 

In optometry school I found an easy way to voluntarily constrict or dilate my pupils at will. Won some bets but Dr, Janks at 70+ years old quickly figured it out. Kept my secret. >:D

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I realize this is a really old thread, but I also came to the internet looking for answers to this phenomenon. My experience is somewhat similar to emma1024's.

I usually don't eat breakfast - at least not a proper breakfast - and not immediately upon waking. I typically wake up, have some water, get dressed and take meds (with more water), and then start my day. For many years, I have noticed a pattern of sneezing with the first intake of calories of the day, but for me, it seems to be associated with what I eat/drink. Lately, I've been eating a Chocolate Chip ONE Protein Bar in the car on the way to work. The first bite of that bar makes me sneeze. The only other time I've had this happen is with the Starbucks Double Shot Energy Drinks - The first sip on an empty stomach always makes me sneeze.

It's not just a sneeze - It's a full reaction. At first, after consuming the product, I feel a tightening in my stomach, which quickly turns to nausea and feeling sick, and then, also very quickly, a strong sneeze. This all happens in only a few seconds time - maybe 10 seconds at the most. After sneezing, I feel perfectly fine. The nausea is gone and I can continue consuming whatever it was I drank/ate and have no further nausea/sneezing issues.

Today, for the first time, I had this happen without including the food as a trigger. I ate a protein bar for breakfast on the way to work this morning. About 2.5 hours later, I suddenly felt very hungry, which was quickly followed by the same feeling I described above with nausea, but not quite as strong. Then I sneezed and felt fine. Still hungry, but not hangry. I ate something and had no sneezing associated with the intake of food.

I see some comments on the internet about a nerve being stimulated that causes the sneezing, but was looking for more info. There seems to be little information out there about this, but several people who experience some version of the phenomenon. Like others, when I mention this to other people, they think that I'm crazy, must need to see a doctor, and/or just misinterpret these coincidental happenings. It happens way too often to be coincidental. It's not every day - or even every week - but probably at least once a month that I experience this...and it seems to be getting a little more frequent and sometimes a bit more uncomfortable for that brief moment of nausea.

Anyway, just thought I'd add to the commentary on this issue. Would love to see more research on it.

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53 minutes ago, NatureinTX said:

Like others, when I mention this to other people, they think that I'm crazy, must need to see a doctor, and/or just misinterpret these coincidental happenings.

We can discuss this as much as you want, as long as you aren't asking for a diagnosis. Nobody on the web is qualified to do that without physical testing, so we'll also tell you to see your doctor.

53 minutes ago, NatureinTX said:

It happens way too often to be coincidental. It's not every day - or even every week - but probably at least once a month that I experience this...and it seems to be getting a little more frequent and sometimes a bit more uncomfortable for that brief moment of nausea.

The extra frequency and discomfort MAY be psychosomatic due to your focus on the phenomenon, but it's strange that it happened without the normal food stimuli (or outside the normal time for the stimuli). There's a LOT of molecular activity going on above a hot cup of coffee, and probably some irritants that get released when you open the packaging on a breakfast bar.

But the problem most likely isn't with the stimulus, but rather with the way your body is wired to react to it. The signal transmitted to the brain from the nerves can be different between people. I've had explosive sneezes before, obviously triggered by some stimulus, but I've never experience the nausea you mention. It almost sounds like your body is so determined to be rid of X that it prepares to sneeze and/or vomit simultaneously in order to purge the irritant. Do your eyes ever water as well?

I've also experienced some weird cross-wiring wrt the head/face/throat/sinuses (where all the intake orifices are). Sometimes when I get a scratchy throat, if I can't clear it with saliva or a cough, my eyes will water (another reaction to irritants). I've sneezed right after plucking a hair from my moustache. This may be our bodies dealing with our particular neural pathways.

Again, if you're concerned, you should ask your doctor. It would be REALLY cool if you could journal your experiences, treat this like an experiment. EVERY DAY, you mark down whether it happened or not, and if so, what the detailed circumstances were. Besides being great evidence to show your doctor you aren't crazy, this kind of experiment could give you some predictive power over this phenomenon. 

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