Sneezing may be unpleasant, but you may face some potential complications if you try to hold it back.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, one dare not sneeze in public, not even with their mask on! Isn’t it? But Covid-19 or not, some people just generally try to hold their sneeze in if they are with someone or in a professional space. So, sometimes stifling a sneeze may seem appropriate, but a study published in the British Medical Journal case report showed the damage that suppressing a sneeze can do.
If simply put, holding your sneeze is dangerous because of the energy it produces. A sneeze generates a significant pressure and when you hold the pressure, it can cause a rupture of your eardrums, irritation of the throat, and even in severe cases, rupture of blood vessels in your eyes or brain.
1. Eardrum ruptures
Holding in a sneeze can affect your hearing. Sneezing is capable of causing middle and inner ear damage, including a ruptured eardrum. “If you tend to hold in the high pressure that gets built up in your respiratory system before sneezing then some air can go into your ears too. This pressurized air further goes into the tube in each of your ears that connects to the middle ear and eardrum that is known as the Eustachian tube. Thus, the pressure can lead to the rupture of your eardrum and there will be hearing loss,” Dr Pritam Moon, consultant physician, Wockhardt Hospital, Mumbai, tells HealthShots.
Another reason why you should never avoid sneezing, especially if you are suffering a cold, is to release the yellow nasal discharge from the body. Dr Moon says, “Sneezing allows you to clear the nose of anything that shouldn’t be present there, including the bacteria. Holding a sneeze leads to the redirection of air back into your ears from your nasal passages that carry bacteria or infected mucus to your middle ear inviting an infection. You may be required to take antibiotics to manage that middle ear infection.”
3. Broken ribs
“When you hold a sneeze the high-pressure air is forced into the lungs with a lot of force, and this can lead to the breaking of your ribs,” says Dr Moon.
Why do we sneeze?
Sneezing is a mechanism you use to clear your nose. When foreign particles like pollen, dust, or smoke enter your nose, they may interact with your nasal passage. If this happens, an electric signal gets sent to your brain to inform it that it’s time for a sneeze. The act of sneezing forces water, mucus, and air from your nose quickly.
Although risks of holding in a sneeze are low, still there are chances that it could lead to consequences. So never ever hold on to your sneeze!