These doctors say you should never hold a sneeze in, but why?

·2-min read
Photo credit: LaylaBird - Getty Images
Photo credit: LaylaBird - Getty Images

Ever been in a situation where you desperately need to sneeze but end up holding it in? Maybe you're on a packed rush-hour train, or you're studying at the local library. Well, it turns out that no matter what the reason is for holding in a sneeze, it's not the best thing for our health and could actually cause some serious damage to our body. Who knew?

One man from the UK unfortunately found that out the hard way when ruptured the back of his throat while holding in a sneeze. As a result, the 34-year-old could barely speak or swallow, and was left in extreme pain. So, what actually happened?

Taking to the BMJ Medical Journal, a group of ear, nose and throat specialists from the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, took a look at the man's unusual case, and explained why you should never hold in a sneeze.

"Halting sneezing via blocking (the) nostrils and mouth is a dangerous manoeuvre, and should be avoided," the experts said.

Photo credit: Westend61 - Getty Images
Photo credit: Westend61 - Getty Images

They continued: "It may lead to numerous complications, such as pseudomediastinum (air trapped in the chest between both lungs), perforation of the tympanic membrane (perforated eardrum) and even rupture of a cerebral aneurysm (ballooning blood vessel in the brain)."

Essentially, pressure builds up in your body when you're about to sneeze. But, if you hold this pressure in and stop it from being released, your nose and throat get the brunt of it instead. Holding in a sneeze could could even have a knock on effect to your hearing as well. That's because as the blocked air tries to find a way to escape, it could end up making its way out through your ear and past your ear drum. But, if a burst eardrum isn't bad enough, holding in a sneeze could even cause an ear infection, and in some rarer cases, can lead to broken ribs too. Ouch.

But, why exactly do we need to sneeze in the first place?

Sneezing is our body's way of getting out things that shouldn't be in our airways (like germs, or a biscuit crumb). It makes sense then that if those germs find their way into our ears, or other places, we could develop an infection.

So, next time you find yourself holding in a sneeze, grab a tissue and let. it. out. Silent library or no silent library!

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