English man ruptures throat trying to hold in a sneeze


The man - who could barely swallow or talk - was admitted to hospital, where he was tube-fed and given intravenous antibiotics until the swelling and pain subsided.

He described a "popping sensation" in his neck and said the swelling began "after he tried to halt a sneeze by pinching the nose and holding his mouth closed", the doctors write.

One 34-year-old man who tried to hold in a sneeze by plugging his mouth and nose ended up with major damage to his throat, a feeding tube down his neck, and a week-long hospital visit.

The specialists, from University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, wrote: 'Halting a sneeze via blocking nostrils and mouth is a risky manoeuvre and should be avoided, as it may lead to numerous complications such as pneumomediastinum [air trapped in the chest between the lungs], perforation of tympanic membrane [perforated eardrum] and even rupture of cerebral aneurysm [potentially fatal bursting blood vessels in the brain]'.

That was a sure sign air bubbles had found their way into the deep tissue and muscles of the chest.

"Luckily, it was a very small perforation", Yang said.

"In your nose itself, you can burst a blood vessel and get a bleeding nose".

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And in some cases, you could break bones in your ear or lose your hearing completely due to the suppressed sneeze.

This kind of sneezing injury is unusual, according to the report. But in rare cases, it can happen in people when they vomit, strain or cough heavily.

"It is a rare injury that we would more likely see with trauma, like if someone were to be in a auto accident or was injured with a gunshot or knife, or if they swallowed something sharp", said Dr. Adam M. Klein, who did not see the British patient and was not involved in the study.

In the BMJ case report, authors point out that thwarting a sneeze - the body's attempt to eliminate such irritants as mucus or allergens in the nose - could conceivably rupture an undetected aneurysm, or ballooning blood vessel, in the brain.

The man was discharged after seven days, with a warning not to block both nostrils the next time he sneezed.

Klein said, if you are anxious about spreading germs with your sneezes, rather than hold it in, the best thing to do to avoid injury is to let it out.