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Let it out! Stifling a sneeze could rupture your throat

Repression is painful.
Here's why it's dangerous to hold in a sneeze. Photo: ISTOCK

In recent horrifying medical news, it turns out the seemingly harmless, well-intentioned act of stifling a sneeze can lead to a ruptured throat. Is nothing safe? 

A new report published in the medical journal BMJ Case Reports and charmingly titled “Snap, crackle and pop: when sneezing leads to a crackling in the neck” presents the case of a 34-year-old man who made an error in judgment that turned out to be quite painful. 

Dude was just trying to be polite and “halt a sneeze by pinching the nose and holding his mouth close.” Do not do this at home, kids. The gentleman experienced a “popping sensation in his neck” followed by swelling. He ended up in the emergency room, where he was diagnosed with a “spontaneous perforation of the larynx,” or Boerhaave’s syndrome; in layman’s terms, a hole in the throat. This condition can also be caused by vomiting, heaving coughing, or trauma from an injury. 

The crackling and popping sounds were caused by air bubbles that got trapped in the muscle and deep tissue of his chest. Yikes. The young man also suffered from odynophagia, the medical term for painful swallowing, and laryngitis. 

After seven days of antibiotics by IV and food through a tube, the bloke was discharged with doctor’s orders to never suppress a sneeze again. 

In the report, the authors cautioned that doing so could also lead to a perforated eardrum and even cerebral aneurysm. 

According to a report from Texas A&M University Health Science Center, the safest and most hygenic way to halt the spread of germs from a sneeze is to use a tissue, then promptly throw it in the garbage and wash your hands immediately after. A close second would be to sneeze into the crook of your elbow. Oh, and get a flu shot

Be safe out there kids!