Containing a sneeze by completely blocking the nose and mouth can cause serious physical harm, doctors warn.
The warning comes in the wake of the unusual case of a 34-year-old man who was treated in England for a tissue rupture in his throat, caused by the repression of a large sneeze. With no escape route, the air pressure in the lungs ripped through the soft tissue of his throat.
Although this is a rare case, the doctors who described it in the scientific journal BMJ Case Reports believe that people should be more aware of the risks of containing this involuntary and sudden movement of the diaphragm.
In addition to the damage suffered by this man, the authors of the report warn that totally suppressing a sneeze can cause injuries to the ear or even cause a cerebral aneurysm – a bulge or dilation in a blood vessel in the brain that can lead to a hemorrhage.
The man who ripped his throat came to the emergency room at the hospital with changes in voice, swollen neck and pain when swallowing.
In addition, he said he felt as if something exploded in his neck after squeezing his nose to suppress a sneeze.
When the doctors examined him they noticed that he had swelling and tenderness in the throat and neck area. An x-ray confirmed that air was leaking from his trachea into the soft tissues of his neck and back through a fissure.
The doctors had to feed him with a probe for the next seven days to give tissue the necessary time to heal, followed by further recovery time at home.
The doctors of the otolaryngology department (ear, nose, throat) of the hospital where the patient was treated said that suppressing a sneeze by closing (pinching) your nose and mouth is a dangerous maneuver that should be avoided.
Sneezing can spread diseases, so although it is good to let them out, experts recommend containing the sneeze in a tissue or the sleeve of your shirt.