Pinching your nose while clamping your mouth shut to contain a forceful sneeze could be dangerous, warn doctors

Recently, a man ruptured the back of his throat during this manoeuvre. It left him barely able to speak or swallow and in considerable pain.

Emergency doctors were surprised

Spontaneous rupture of the back of the throat is rare. It is usually caused by trauma or sometimes by vomiting, retching or heavy coughing, so the 34-year old’s symptoms initially surprised the emergency care doctors.

The man explained that he had developed a popping sensation in his neck, which immediately swelled up after he tried to contain a forceful sneeze by pinching his nose and keeping his mouth clamped shut at the same time.

A little later, he found it extremely painful to swallow and lost his voice.

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Risk of serious complications

When the doctors examined him they heard popping and crackling sounds (crepitus), which extended from his neck all the way down to his rib cage. This is a sure sign that air bubbles had found their way into the deep tissue and muscles of the chest, which was subsequently confirmed by a computed tomography scan.

Due to the risk of serious complications, the man was admitted to hospital, where he was fed by a tube and given intravenous antibiotics until the swelling and pain had subsided.

After seven days, he was well enough to be discharged with the advice not to block both nostrils when sneezing in future.

It may lead to complications, such as air trapped between both lungs, perforated eardrum, and even rupture of an aneurysm in the brain

Related: How to fight summer colds

Dangers of blocking a sneeze

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

“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],” they explain.

Source: BMJ via www.sciencedaily.com

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