Photo: Glow Wellness
We all brushed it aside as a nearly superstitious belief, laughing at the people who were warning us. But it’s true – holding down a sneeze can actually really damage your throat, as a 34-year-old British man found out the hard way. He did the opposite of what doctors recommend, he tried to hold on to a sneeze, and as a result, he spent two weeks in the hospital.
As reported in the medical journal BMJ Case Reports, the man pinched his nose and closed his mouth during a forceful sneeze. And as he told his doctors, he immediatly felt a popping sensation in his neck. He felt no pain initially, but after a few hours his neck began to ache and his voice changed, so he rushed to the hospital.
Doctors found swelling in his neck, and when they examined his soft tissue they heard popping and crackling, which meant there were air bubbles getting into the man’s muscles and deep into his tissue. Scans confirmed the initial diagnose and actually showed that by holding down a sneeze he blew a small hole in his throat.
The man said to the medical staff that he held the sneeze as he believes it’s “unhygienic to sneeze into the atmosphere or into someone’s face,” which is very British, and polite of him. Yet, a simple and effective alternative to blowing up your neck in the most ridiculous way possible is to just sneeze into the crook of your elbow.
That’s because sneezing is your body’s protective reflex from irritants that got into your nose. A sneeze is a result of a significant amount of air pressure built up in the lungs that forces its way through the nasal cavity to expel that irritant and it can propel mucous at a rate of 100 miles an hour. If you hold up such air pressure force, it must go somewhere and can potentially cause sinus problems, rupture eardrums, ear infections, and middle and inner ear damage.
No surgery was needed, and the unlucky Brit was treated with antibiotics, yet he had to be fed through a tube for a week. At least he didn’t suffer any permanent damage.
If holding back a sneeze can cause this much damage, we wonder what will the swallowable gas-tracking tech pills discover about holding back farts.