Don’t hold in a sneeze as it can harm you, says study

Stopping a forceful sneeze by pinching the nose or closing the mouth can cause serious injuries and even death, doctors warn. As an example, ear, nose and throat specialists at the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust in Britain reported the incident of a 34-year-old man in the British Medical Journal Case Reports. The patient, who has not been named, arrived at a hospital complaining he was finding it extremely painful to swallow and his voice had changed after he tried to contain a forceful sneeze. He felt a popping sensation in his neck where a swelling soon emerged after halting the sneeze — a practice he had been doing for over two decades. While examining him, doctors heard crackling sounds from his neck to his chest. Air bubbles had reached the deep tissue and muscles of his chest. A CT scan showed the back of his throat had ruptured. He was fed via a tube and given intravenous antibiotics until the swelling and pain subsided. After seven days, he was discharged from hospital with an advice not to hold in a sneeze in future. Doctors say smothering a sneeze may lead to complications such as air trapped in the chest, a burst eardrum and even rupture of a blood vessel of the brain. Stifling a sneeze could lead to middle ear infections as infected mucus would be pushed through the Eustachian tube into the ear. Researchers believe sneezing helps clear irritants and viruses out of our systems. An unrestrained sneeze can spread pathogens. So when one sneezes, he or she should do it into a tissue.