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Suppressing a Sneeze: The Hidden Dangers You Didn’t See Coming

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Sneezing, although often regarded as an annoyance, is actually a vital physiological process aimed at maintaining the health of our respiratory system. It functions primarily to clear the nasal passages and eliminate irritants, particles, or potentially illness-causing viruses. However, preventing this natural body reaction can lead to unforeseen injuries with severe repercussions.

In a well-documented case from 2018 that has recently resurfaced, a British man experienced a severe throat injury after trying to suppress a sneeze. As described in BMJ Case Reports, the 34-year-old man clamped his mouth shut and covered his nostrils in an attempt to stop the sneeze, ultimately leading to a ruptured throat. As a result, he experienced symptoms such as painful swallowing, a change in voice, and a popping sensation in his neck, along with swelling.

Suppressing a Sneeze

Hazards of Suppressing a Sneeze

Suppressing a sneeze interferes with the essential process of eliminating irritants from the nasal passages, leading to increased pressure in the respiratory tract. Dr. Parth Hingol, a consultant ENT surgeon at HCG Hospital Rajkot, elucidates that when the force of a sneeze is reduced, this pressure seeks an escape through weaker areas of the body. In the aforementioned case, pressure entered the back of the throat and caused a hole to form.

Dr. Hingol also explains that suppressing a sneeze can lead to consequences beyond creating a hole in the throat. These include:

  • Eardrum rupture
  • Increased intraocular pressure (pressure inside the eye)
  • Blood vessel injuries
  • Severe pain
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Altered voice quality

Early Diagnosis & Treatment: The Imperative Measures

To mitigate these adverse effects, prompt treatment and early diagnosis are crucial. Dr. Hingol emphasizes the importance of seeking medical assistance immediately if one believes that suppressing a sneeze has inflicted harm. Treatment options can range from pain management to surgical procedures, depending on the severity of the injury. A medical professional will assess the extent of the damage and recommend the most suitable course of action.

Safeguarding Your Health: Leave Sneezes Uninterrupted

So, what can be done to prevent such unforeseen injuries? Dr. Hingol has an unequivocal recommendation: let sneezes unfold naturally. Refrain from stopping a sneeze by covering your mouth and nostrils simultaneously. If you find yourself needing to control a sneeze in certain situations, opt for methods like opening your mouth wide, allowing the sneeze to escape freely. Doing so will help protect your body and airways from potential harm.

In conclusion, it’s essential to acknowledge and respect that sneezing is a necessary physiological function for maintaining our overall health and the proper functioning of our respiratory system. By allowing sneezes to occur unobstructed and staying informed about the possible repercussions of their suppression, we can safeguard ourselves from facing unnecessary and harmful medical consequences.

“Sneeze”, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sneeze ↩

“Suppressing a sneeze can cause a throat injury!”, The Indian Express, https://indianexpress.com/article/lifestyle/health/never-suppress-a-sneeze-hole-throat-symptoms-causes-treatment-8896528/ ↩ ↩2 ↩3 ↩4 ↩5 ↩6 ↩7 ↩8