Achoo! Lauren Johnson Can't Stop Sneezing

Lauren Johnson, 12, sneezes up to 16 times a minute, baffling her doctors.

ByABC News via GMA logo
November 11, 2009, 7:12 AM

Nov. 11, 2009— -- Lauren Johnson is a typical 12-year-old girl whose life is constantly punctuated by interruptions that are anything but normal.

Whether at her Virginia home, with her family or getting ready for bed, Lauren sneezes up to 16 times per minute, a condition that has has stumped her parents and doctors.

"It's frustrating a lot," Lauren told "Good Morning America" today, sneezing four times before getting that sentence out.

Lauren's prolonged sneezing fit began about two weeks ago, when she was recovering from a cold.

She can't go to school, and sleep is her only escape, though even that is hard to come by.

"It's pretty hard," she said. "I have to kind of be physically exhausted before I can, because I just sneeze and sneeze until I eventually can hold off for a couple of seconds before I can go to sleep."

Her mother Lynn Johnson has taken her to countless doctors and a hypnotherapist, but no one has been able to help. An ear, nose and throat specialist has found nothing wrong with her, and Lauren is also seeing a therapist to determine whether there is some sort of psychological reason for the sneezing.

"Their heart goes out to her," Johnson said. "They really want to help her. I just don't think anybody knows how."

Allergist Dr. Clifford Bassett said he believes Lauren has a condition called machine-gun sneezing.

"People who have sneezing where it looks like they are blowing a trumpet or violin or machine gun, basically a pattern of sneezing, repetitive sneezing, annoying sneezing," he said.

Bassett said the condition is extremely rare but can be triggered by hundreds of causes, including allergies, sinus problems or growths in the nasal passage.

Johnson said the hardest part of her Lauren's ordeal is not knowing how to comfort her.

"I can't tell my daughter it's going to get better, in a week or in a month or in a year," she said. "Because everybody else who has experienced anything like that it didn't happen."