Stifle A Sneeze? Don't Even Think About It

Airway Rupture

One young man managed to rupture the back of his throat during this manoeuvre, leaving him barely able to speak or swallow, and in considerable pain.

I'm fairly sure that that statistic isn't backed up by peer-reviewed research, but you get my point. His attempt to stifle a sneeze backfired, and the force of that would-be sneeze tore through the soft tissue in his throat, rupturing part of it.

Spontaneous rupture of the back of the throat is rare and usually caused by trauma, explained the authors of the report, published January 15.

The 34-year-old patient told them his problems started after he tried to stop a forceful sneeze by pinching his nose and closing his mouth.

Before long, the man noticed that there was something wrong, particularly that there was pain whenever he swallowed and a change in his voice.

While trying to hold back the sneeze, he felt a "popping sensation" in his neck, which began to swell.

And it could also cause small surface blood vessels in the eyes and other areas of the head and neck to burst due to built-up pressure, Chepeha said.

The study - "Snap, crackle and pop: when sneezing leads to crackling in the neck" - described the man, whom it did not identify, as "previously fit and well". Crepitus is a sign that air bubbles have gained entrance to the deep tissues and muscles of the chest.

The Leicester team said that patients with well-contained air leakages in their chest walls, and no significant complications, might be treated conservatively with intravenous feeding and antibiotics. In total, he spent 7 days in hospital before he was well enough to leave.

"Halting sneezing via blocking [the] nostrils and mouth is a risky manoeuvre, and should be avoided", caution the authors.

Throughout my life, I've taken plenty of grief over my sneeze-which some perceive as loud and dramatic. A neck radiograph confirmed air in the retropharyngeal region and a computed tomography (CT) with contrast showed extensive soft tissue emphysema predominantly centered within the neck.

They conclude by stating that, "Halting a sneeze via blocking nostrils and mouth is a unsafe maneuver and should be avoided, as it may lead to numerous complications such as pneumomediastinum, perforation of tympanic membrane and even rupture of cerebral aneurysm".

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