Friday, May 28, 2010

The girl who sneezes 12,000 times a day has doctors baffled

Lauren Johnson is a typical 12-year-old girl - except that she can't stop sneezing.
It is so bad that she sneezes up to 20 times a minute, or 12,000 times a day.
The non-stop sneezing began two weeks ago when Lauren from Virginia in the U.S. caught a cold.
Lauren can't go to school and is even struggling to eat.
Lauren Johnson, 12, can't stop sneezing
Lauren Johnson, 12, can't stop sneezing
Lauren Johnson, 12, can't stop sneezing
The sneeze: Lauren Johnson is like this 12,000 times a day

The only relief she gets is when she falls asleep each night. Her condition has left doctors baffled.

During a five-minute interview on the Today Show in the U.S. Lauren sneezed hundreds of times, her speech interrupted every few seconds.

The 12-year-old - dubbed the 'Gesundheit Girl' said: 'I can't stop.
'I thought it wouldn't last this long but it's been two weeks now.'

She said she is not in pain - simply in discomfort.
'It's primarily the sneezing,' she added.
'Maybe I'll get a raw nose from the tissues but that's it.'
Lauren with her mother Lynn Johnson on the Today Show in a bid to find someone who might be able to cure her non-stop sneezing

One expert believes she is suffering from a syndrome known as 'machine gun sneezing', in which victims sneeze incessantly.
Lauren told the Today Show that she felt 'miserable'.

'It's been a long two weeks. I've seen my friends here and there but I haven't been to school.'

Her mother, Lynn Johnson, has spent the past week going to a variety of doctors looking for a diagnosis and relief for her daughter - and has now gone on television in a bid to find a cure or a specialist who can help.

They have tried 11 different medications so far.

'Life for her has stopped. Everybody is baffled. Nobody really knows how to treat it,' Ms Johnson said.

She added: 'It turns off when she sleeps. Only in a deep REM sleep it turns off.'

Lauren and Lynn Johnson on the Today Show talking about her sneezing

They tried hypnosis but it did not work.

Lauren has also seen a therapist in case a psychological factor is triggering the physical reaction.

She has been unable to go to school because it puts other students off - and she struggles to eat between sneezes.

Lauren told a local news website: 'The hard part is missing school and when people stare.

'It's very hard.'

Doctors believe it may be that she is suffering from an 'irretractable psychogenic disorder' that could be triggered by stress.

Her mother added: 'There's less than 40 cases ever documented ever in the entire world. Nobody really knows how to treat it, what's going to work, and even in the cases where it might have worked or turned the sneezing off for awhile, a lot of times it comes back again and then you're right back to where you started.'

Neither Lauren nor her mother say she is stressed out.

Her sneezing is not contagious.

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