Let it out, because stifling a sneeze can lead to a ruptured throat
4 mins read

Let it out, because stifling a sneeze can lead to a ruptured throat

You might be in the middle of a very important meeting or a place with pin-drop silence, but holding a sneeze can be dangerous to health. In recent events, a man from Britain aged 34 learned his lessons the hard way around after he had to stay in a hospital bed for about two weeks. The patient was admitted to the hospital due to a hole in the throat which was caused by trying to block the sneeze by closing mouth and nose.

The reports of this particular incident were reported in a medical journal named BMJ Case Reports on Monday. As stated in the report, the patient was previously in a fit condition but he pinched the openings of his nose and closed his mouth to stop a sneeze forcefully. He told the doctors after recovering that he felt the sensation of popping near his neck region as he closed his nose and mouth. He didn’t feel any pain at that very moment but following a few hours post the incident, he experienced pain around his neck and throat region. Later this pain was followed by his voice changing and a swollen neck. Seeing this sudden change, the patient went to the hospital to get it checked.

As per the patient, he always used to stop his sneeze in public areas as it is highly unhygienic. That points to the fact that this 34-year-old gentleman has been holding his mouth and nose while sneezing for more than 30 years now. However, this time was a bit different for the young chap explained the author of the case report Dr. Wanding Yang from the Department of ear, nose, and throat at the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust.

As the doctors examined the swelling on the patient’s neck, they heard a sound of cracking and popping. This meant that air bubbles were going deep inside the muscles and tissues. With scans, the issue was confirmed where the results showed that there were streaks of air present in the retropharyngeal region as well as the extensive surgical emphysema close to the anterior of the neck near the trachea. In simple words, this means that stopping his sneeze made a small hole in his throat.

However, this hole was too small for surgery. Sneezing is an act of expelling any irritant present inside the nose which is a natural reflex of the body. To make sure the irritant is expelled from the body, a substantial amount of pressure is building up inside the lungs to help expel the irritant via the nasal cavity. Trying to stop this powerful pressure causes the pressure to get enclosed inside the ear, nose and throat area as they are linked together.

A strong sneeze can throw mucous up to a rate of 100 miles per hour. As you hold your nose, this highly pressurized air needs to pass in some direction. In this particular case, the air pressure injured the tissues inside the throat of this young man. Apart from throat rupture, blocking a sneeze can lead to sinus issues, inner and middle ear damage along with ear infections as well as an eardrum that can rupture with pressure.

With some antibiotics and tube feeding, the hole was healed within two weeks interval. Post-release from the hospital, the patient was able to chew soft food to allow the throat to heal totally. Apart from sneezing injuries, similar issues have been noticed if someone coughs heavily or vomits in a forceful manner.

In order to avoid such injuries try to blow out your sneeze in the elbow crook if you don’t have a napkin or tissue. The good news here is that there was no permanent damage to the patient’s throat. But that might not always be the case which means it’s better to let it out.