We’ve all suppressed our sneeze to avoid embarrassment, but, attempting to hold a sneeze can be a recipe for disaster. Some people feel sneezing in public is as embarrassing as it is gross, especially if your nose starts to tickle in an otherwise silent environment.
Trying to hold the urge always comes with the best intentions, whether you want to be polite or just prevent everyone from looking in your direction to detect where the echo is coming from. This mostly happens when a person is self-conscious about the sound of their sneeze.
Unfortunately, your attempt at common courtesy could lead you to having a rare and dangerous medical condition. That’s what happened to a 34-year old man in England, according to a case-study in the British Medical Journal.
This man showed up at the emergency service of a hospital in Leicester, England with a swollen neck and in extreme pain. “The patient described a popping sensation in his neck after he tried to halt a sneeze by pinching the nose and holding his mouth closed,” doctors detailed in a study published in the medical journal BMJ Case Reports.
A CAT scan confirmed what they suspected: the force of the suppressed sneeze had ruptured and torn open the back of the throat. Due to this, he could barely talk nor swallow and hence had to be tube-fed. He was also given injecting antibiotics to help reduce the swelling, and eventually, the pain subsided.
He was discharged after a week.
“Halting sneezing via blocking the nostrils and mouth is a dangerous manoeuvre, and should be avoided,” the doctors concluded. In rare cases, stifling a sneeze has led to a condition in which air gets trapped between the lungs, “and even ruptures of the cerebral aneurysm,” which is a ballooning blood vessel in the brain, they explained.