Wednesday, October 14, 2015


For most people, letting out a big sneeze can be such a relief. But not for Katelyn Thornley, whose bizarre and unknown condition leads her to sneeze roughly 12,000 times in one day.

The 12-year-old girl from Texas recounts how the phase started with small but regular sneezing attacks. Days passed and the fits only got worse. Pains shoot through her nose whenever she sneezes, an average of 20 times per minute. The sneezing fits have been going on for over 20 days.

In an interview with news channel ABC, she said she is in constant pain from the sneezing. She also has trouble eating, which made her weak and her legs and abdomen hurt. Due to prolonged sneezing, Katelyn was forced to take a leave from school until she gets better.

Doctors have no idea what's going on with Katelyn. They already ruled out the possibility of allergies and virus. The sneezing fits happen during the day and would only stop after taking Benadryl. The phenomenon would also cease at night after she had fallen asleep or listened to relaxing music like songs from The Beatles.

"Sometimes I wish I could leave my body for a little while so I could watch myself sleep and be at peace because even in my dreams, I sneeze," said Katelyn.

A neurologist from Texas Children's Hospital's Dr. Mered Parnes saw Katelyn in early October. Parnes mentioned a possible tic condition. Tic is a nonrhythmic motor movement which is often habitual and abrupt. There are two kinds of tics: vocal and motor. A great example would be when a person twitches his or her nose repeatedly without noticing or when a person blinks their eyes repeatedly. Most tic conditions are invisible to the sufferer and casual observers.

Tic is usually common in children, with one in every four children experiencing the condition during their childhood. Tic can be very uncomfortable and scientists have yet to discover its actual case. Some experts expressed that lack of sleep and stress contribute to the condition.

While medication can help solve the tic problem, it is only advised when the tic reaches an intolerable phase. Katelyn's parents are asking for experts in the field to help their child recover from a possible tic condition so she can return to a normal life.

A similar case happened in 2009 when a then 12-year-old girl from Virginia went through the same ordeal. Lauren Johnson also suffered from 12,000 sneezes in a day.

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1 comment:

  1. The most remarkable thing Lauren Johnson did Wednesday morning was — nothing.

    During two previous visits to TODAY’s New York studios, the shy 12-year-old sat on a couch and sneezed and sneezed and sneezed. The achoos came at the rate of up to 12 a minute and 12,000 a day, pausing only when she fell into the deepest phases of sleep.

    But Wednesday Lauren sat quietly, her hands clasped between her knees as she listened to her mother and two doctors talk with TODAY’s Natalie Morales about the strange disease she had that made her sneeze continuously for four months, and how it was brought under control.

    “How are you feeling?” Morales asked.

    “A lot better,” Lauren said politely.

    Her mother, Lynn Johnson, took over from there.

    “Two weeks ago, it stopped gradually over a two-day period,” she said.

    For that, Lauren has Dr. Denis Bouboulis to thank. An allergist and immunologist, Bouboulis realized that Lauren had a rare and only recently identified condition called PANDAS...

    At the time, she had been seen by a half-dozen doctors and other health professionals and was in the process of undergoing virtually every test known to medical science.

    But no one could put a finger on what was causing her sneezing. At the time, NBC’s chief medical editor, Dr. Nancy Snyderman, speculated that there could be a psychosomatic aspect to it...

    There is no clinical test for PANDAS; Bouboulis arrived at his diagnosis by running through a checklist of symptoms. The treatment for the syndrome is called IVIG, which stands for intravenous immunoglobulin. The treatment bolsters the victim’s immune system, allowing it to fight off the invaders...

    Bouboulis gave Lauren two days of IVIG treatments. After the first day, the sneezing diminished. After the second, it stopped.

    Though her mother says Lauren is “not cured,” the 12-year-old did not sneeze on TODAY Thursday — a dramatic contrast from her previous appearances on the show.

    But Lauren and her mother’s relief is tempered by the knowledge that there is no cure for PANDAS. The sneezing could return with a future strep infection.

    “She’s not cured,” Lynn told Morales. “That’s the biggest problem with this disease. Parents live in fear because they can be reexposed to bacteria, including strep, and re-manifest again. Some children go years and some children go months. Some children never re-manifest again.”
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