Here's a Perfect Example of Why You Shouldn't Stifle Your Sneeze

Sneezing

He said the symptoms appeared immediately after he tried to hold in a sneeze by pinching his nose and clamping his mouth shut.

The reason the case merited a write-up in the BMJ is because it's unusual - holding in a sneeze doesn't normally cause you to puncture your throat, else I'm sure the danger would be much more widely known.

Rupturing the back of its throat is a rare condition that usually comes from a specific trauma, surgery or infection.

Not too long after he said he found it extremely painful to swallow.

When doctors examined the 34-year-old they determined that the crackling, popping sounds he'd complained of extended from his neck all the way down to his rib cage. The sounds indicate that air bubbles had found their way into the deep tissue and muscles of the chest, which was later confirmed by a scan.

The specialists, from University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, wrote: 'Halting a sneeze via blocking nostrils and mouth is a risky manoeuvre and should be avoided, as it may lead to numerous complications such as pneumomediastinum [air trapped in the chest between the lungs], perforation of tympanic membrane [perforated eardrum] and even rupture of cerebral aneurysm [potentially fatal bursting blood vessels in the brain]'.

Because of the risk of serious complications, the man was admitted to hospital, where he was fed by tube and given intravenous antibiotics until the swelling and pain had subsided.

It took him a week to recover and he was finally discharged on the advice of never trying to block his nose while sneezing again.

"They transmitted the force of the sneeze up their nose, through the eustachian tube and up into their middle ear", he said.

However, the force of the sneeze resulted in him perforating his pharynx.

It's the first barrier towards foreign things entering the air stream, she explains, which is important to protect. Then it also humidifies the air before it enters the lungs.

Doctors have advised that in general, holding in a sneeze isn't a good idea. After major health events like SARS, many of us have been taught to sneeze into our sleeves or limit our sneezing.

Tempted to stifle a loud or untimely sneeze?

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