January 28, 2024

Is it Bad to Hold in a Sneeze?

is it bad to hold in a sneeze

As soon as a sneeze begins to build up, whether at work, dinner or browsing at Pinelands Library it can be tempting to suppress its forceful expulsion - but doing so could prove dangerous and cause ruptured ear drums, neck pain or even brain aneurysms.

1. Damage to Blood Vessels

Sneezing is an effective way to clear away bacteria, viruses, excess mucus, foreign particles and allergens from our noses and bodies. Even blocking it with something like tissue paper or the crook of your elbow allows some of this gunk to leave our bodies.

Sneezing may not cause blood vessels in the face to rupture, but its force can damage superficial blood vessels in the eyes or throat, rupture ear drums, and in rare instances injure diaphragms or cause laryngeal or neck pain, according to Dr. Abramowitz.

Scientists have discovered that sneezing creates pressure in the respiratory system of up to 1 pound-per-square inch (1 psi). When you try to contain your sneeze, air enters Eustachian tubes behind your ears which can rupture resulting in pierced eardrums or potentially life-threatening ruptured aneurysms forming behind them.

2. Burst Ear Drums

Sneezes are powerful airborne expulsions that propel germ-laden mucus droplets at 100 miles per hour. Holding in one will lead to uncomfortable side effects such as ruptured ear drums, hearing loss, damaged superficial blood vessels in eyes or nose and in rare instances even cause brain aneurysms or even fractured ribs.

Suppressing a sneeze releases trapped pressure, sending air and germs down your Eustachian tubes, which connect your throat with middle and inner ears. Sneezing forceful enough can expand these tiny passageways, potentially burst your eardrum, according to an article published in BMJ Case Reports.

Restraining oneself from sneezing could also push air into the sinuses and lungs, potentially leading to painful infections, according to research published in PLOS One. Suppressing one's urge may force it backwards into your throat where it may rupture delicate tissue there.

3. Brain Aneurysm

Sneezing provides your brain with oxygen- and nutrient-rich blood through two major vessels - the internal carotid arteries and vertebral arteries, respectively - from your heart directly into its neural regions.

Sneezing is a necessary defense mechanism against irritations, excess mucus and viruses in your nose; but if you suppress one too frequently it may deposit foreign materials in the middle ear where they could cause infection.

Suppressing a sneeze may result in a ruptured Eustachian tube or even permanent hearing loss, as these ruptures connect your inner ear with throat via small passageways known as Eustachian tubes.

Pinching your nose and mouth together to stop sneezing can have serious adverse side effects, including ruptured throat or rib fractures, particularly when done repeatedly. In 2018, doctors published a case report in the British Medical Journal detailing a 34-year-old man who experienced neck pain as well as inability to swallow after trying to stop his untimely sneezes by pinching their nostrils together repeatedly.

4. Ruptured Throat

Sneezing can cause significant pressure to be applied on the nose, mouth and throat when suppressed - leading to potentially severe side effects including ruptured ear drums and hearing loss.

Sneezing helps the body clear away foreign debris, irritants and bacteria causing sinus inflammation, infection or other issues from entering through its nasal cavities. If you suppress a sneeze it can end up redirecting back into the middle ear through Eustachian tubes causing middle ear infection or ruptured eardrum.

An individual in his 30s from the UK ruptured his windpipe when attempting to control sneezing by pinching his nose and squeezing his mouth closed, leading to painful and swelling pressure on his neck that rendered him almost entirely voiceless. Hospitalization ensued for seven days as this injury is both rare and very serious.

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