If you’re anything like us, you heard all about the dangers of holding in a sneeze when you were a little kid. And while most of us brushed the lectures off as old wives' tales, it turns out there’s more truth to the stories than we thought! According to a study published in the BMJ Case Reports journal on Monday, Jan. 15, a man’s throat ruptured after he held back a sneeze.
The study details the plight of a 34-year-old man hailing from Leicester, England, who went to the emergency room for difficulty swallowing, a “popping sensation” in his throat, and a hoarse voice. He told the docs that he had pinched his nose shut and closed his mouth while sneezing. Ultimately, by way of an X-ray and CT scan, it was revealed that the forceful sneeze actually tore through the soft tissue in his throat.
"When you sneeze, air comes out of you at about 150 miles per hour," Dr. Anthony Aymat told Cosmopolitan. "If you retain all that pressure, it could do a lot of damage and you could end up like the Michelin Man with air trapped in your body." The man was forced to remain in the hospital for a week and eat with the help of a feeding tube so that his throat could heal.
Though in this particular case, the result of suppressing a sneeze was detrimental, according to Dr. Zi Yang Jiang, this type of injury is "exceedingly rare." He noted that it took incredible force for one sneeze to do that kind of damage. "The whole point of sneezing is to get something out of your body, like viruses and bacteria, so if you stop that, those may end up in the wrong part of the body," he explained. So next time you have to sneeze, just let it out!