Register for an account

X

Enter your name and email address below.

Your email address is used to log in and will not be shared or sold. Read our privacy policy.

X

Website access code

Enter your access code into the form field below.

If you are a Zinio, Nook, Kindle, Apple, or Google Play subscriber, you can enter your website access code to gain subscriber access. Your website access code is located in the upper right corner of the Table of Contents page of your digital edition.

Health

Suppressing a Sneeze Could Rupture Your Throat

D-briefBy Carl EngelkingJanuary 16, 2018 4:30 AM
shutterstock_1096280.jpg

Newsletter

Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news

Never do this. (Credit: Shutterstock) Attempting to contain a sneeze could be a recipe for disaster. A 34-year-old patient visited a hospital in the United Kingdom complaining of an extremely sore throat and a dramatic voice change after attempting to suppress a sneeze by pinching his nose and closing his mouth. He told doctors he felt a popping sensation in his neck and noticed immediate swelling after trying to contain the sneeze. When doctors examined him, they could hear crackling sounds—known as crepitus in medical parlance—from his neck to his rib cage. When doctors hear those sounds, it’s typically a sign that air pockets had been forced into the chest cavity—never a good thing. Because the man’s symptoms had potential to cause serious complications, doctors put him on a feeding tube and administered antibiotics until his pain and swelling passed. After seven days, he was released and advised in the future to not block his airways while sneezing.


Podcast-Promo.jpg

iTunes-Podcast-Logo.png

The man’s condition, which doctors called “spontaneous perforation of the pharynx,” is typically caused by blunt trauma to the neck and can sometimes be a painful consequence of intense coughing, retching or vomiting. Rupturing the throat via a suppressed sneeze, however, is quite rare. “Halting sneeze via blocking nostrils and mouth is a dangerous (maneuver) and should be avoided,” the doctors concluded in their report, which was published Monday in BMJ Case Reports. In addition to perforating your pharynx, slamming your nose and mouth shut mid-sneeze could also perforate the eardrum or rupture a vein in the brain. So, when you feel that tickle in your nose, let all hell break loose—just remember to cover your mouth.

    3 Free Articles Left

    Want it all? Get unlimited access when you subscribe.

    Subscribe

    Already a subscriber? Register or Log In

    Want unlimited access?

    Subscribe today and save 70%

    Subscribe

    Already a subscriber? Register or Log In