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Disturbing ways laughing could actually kill you

Anish Vij

| Last updated 

Disturbing ways laughing could actually kill you

Possession of laughing gas is now illegal in the UK - but is laughing too much also a crime?

Not exactly, but laughing excessively can be life threatening for some people.


To be clear, the age-old saying 'laughter is the best medicine' is largely true.


According to the NHS, laughing often is great for releasing stress.

"Having fun and laughing is really important," the healthcare service said.

"Studies have shown wonderful health and stress relief benefits from laughter and even the anticipation of laughter.

"Therefore we should all work on getting more giggles into each day. Having fun should be a priority in the life of anyone who wants better health and greater happiness."

Laughing is good for most of us - but some people need to be more careful than others. Credit: Getty stock image
Laughing is good for most of us - but some people need to be more careful than others. Credit: Getty stock image

Laughter is also known to boost your immune system, something many of us have been trying to do since the Covid pandemic.

When you laugh it can decrease stress hormones and increase immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, which basically improves your resistance to disease.

However, laughter does have the potential to exacerbate preexisting conditions that can kill you, such as:


1) Ruptured brain aneurysm

Laughing too hard, or too much, can trigger a brain aneurysm to burst.

Dr James Hamblin, a public health expert in the US, said: "If you happen to be walking around with an aneurysm in your brain, a single laugh could cause that aneurysm to rupture."

Laughing can kill you. Credit: Getty stock image
Laughing can kill you. Credit: Getty stock image

2) Asthma attack

According to Asthma and Lung UK, laughing can lead to hyperventilation and without access to your inhaler, you might be in trouble.

"When you’re feeling emotional, you might start to take fast and deep breaths," the charity said.

"This is called hyperventilating and it can make your airways narrow, causing asthma symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, breathlessness, or a tight chest.


3) Gelastic seizure

Uncontrollable laughter could be a sign of gelastic epilepsy, which is most commonly a small tumour in the hypothalamus.

People having a gelastic seizure sound like they are laughing or mumbling. This is an uncontrolled reaction caused by unusual electrical activity.

It is very rare to have this as one in 1,000 kids are affected.

Laughter can be fatal. Credit: Pixabay
Laughter can be fatal. Credit: Pixabay

4) Suffocation

If you don't inhale enough oxygen when you laugh, you could be at risk from asphyxiation or a cardiac arrest.

Although, Dr Megan Kamath, a cardiologist at the University of California, Los Angeles, said: "It remains an overall unlikely cause of death for healthy individuals."

Duke University School of Medicine assistant professor of cardiology, Jorge Antonio Gutierrez, added: “Laughing can increase your intrathoracic pressure, and if you have an aortic aneurysm, that pressure can be transmitted into your vascular system, and it would rupture.

“But in that case, you just happened to laugh: the laughing didn’t get you.

“Somebody can have a heart attack while they’re laughing, but they were going to have a heart attack no matter what.”

If you develop severe symptoms after laughing too hard, call emergency services right away.

But for most people, don't be scared of laughing - as mentioned - it's probably very good for you.

Featured Image Credit: Getty stock images

Topics: Health

Anish Vij
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