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Doctors Explain Why You Should Never Hold In A Sneeze

Simon Catling

| Last updated 

Doctors Explain Why You Should Never Hold In A Sneeze

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

You might think you're being polite when you're holding in a sneeze - but you could actually be doing untold damage to yourself, according to doctors.

Yep, it's best to just let that sneeze come out according to the experts, or else you could permanently injure your throat or lungs, which is a lot worse than causing someone else a mild inconvenience.

Of course, at the moment we're particularly nervous about sneezing in public. There's still a pandemic happening after all, which means that there's a nervousness around spreading germs beyond the norm.

Coupled with that is the fact that it is cold season in the UK at the moment and, given we've all been trapped indoors for most of the past 18 months, our immune systems haven't had to deal with such illnesses with the regularity we usually have.

Credit: Alamy
Credit: Alamy

This means that the common cold is hitting us a lot harder than usual and the temptation to sneeze is strong.

If you are sneezing at the moment, first and foremost you should make sure you've not got Covid-19 by taking a lateral flow test and trying isolate from others.

However, if it's not Covid-19, you shouldn't be afraid of letting a sneeze rip - covering your mouth and nose with you hand, of course.

As an example of what might happen if you don't, doctors treated a man in Britain who had ruptured the back of his throat when holding in a sneeze.

The 34-year-old was left in extreme pain and could barely speak or swallow.

Discussing the unusual case in BMJ Case Reports, ear, nose and throat specialists at the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust warned: "Halting sneezing via blocking (the) nostrils and mouth is a dangerous manoeuvre, and should be avoided.

"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)."

Credit: Alamy
Credit: Alamy

If you don't release the pressure that builds from a potential sneeze, it can mean that your nose and throat has to cope with it instead.

You could in turn end up with a ruptured ear drum, because the blocked air trying to escape will instead be diverted into the tube connecting your ear and ear drum.

That's not the only thing you could suffer from, with experts also saying that holding in a sneeze could also cause an ear infection.

The reason we sneeze in the first place is to push out things that shouldn't be in our air passages, and therefore anything with germs in it is likely to cause infection if it ends up where it shouldn't.

If that's not enough, you could also suffer from damaged blood vessels if you stop yourself sneezing, with the forced air bursting them in your nose, eyes or ear drums.

So, in short, as long as you've not got Covid and as long as you're covering your mouth and nose with something, don't hold back!

Topics: World News, News, cold, Health

Simon Catling
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