It’s a common courtesy to want to hold in your sneeze when you’re out in public at a café or looking for arrangements at Flower Market on Main. However, doing so can cause more harm than you may realize.
The Power of a Sneeze
When you sneeze, your body produces pressure in your respiratory system. This includes your sinuses, nasal cavity, all the way down to your throat and lungs.
Scientists have determined that sneezing produces significantly more pressure in your respiratory system than breathing hard during strenuous activity. Furthermore, they found that holding in a sneeze creates 5 to 24 times more pressure than a regular sneeze. That amount of pressure has the potential to cause injuries, some minor and some more severe.
While not all of these are likely, it is possible holding in a sneeze could cause one or more of the following:
- Pain in your chest
- Ruptured eardrum
- Damage to the blood vessels in your eyes, nose, or eardrums
- Injury to diaphragm
- Throat damage
- Broken ribs
- If you have a pre-existing brain aneurysm, there is a minor chance that the pressure from holding in a sneeze could cause it to rupture.
Increased Risk of Ear Infection
Another possible downside to holding in a sneeze is it may increase the risk of ear infection. We sneeze to help clear our nose of things that shouldn’t be there. This can be because of allergies, irritants or viral and bacterial infections. By holding in sneezes, you may allow infected mucus into your middle ear, leading to an ear infection.
Next time you feel a sneeze coming on, don’t hold it in. Simply turn your head away from others and make sure to cover your nose and mouth. Wash your hands immediately after to prevent the spread of any germs.
What to Do for Frequent Sneezing
If you find yourself sneezing and dealing with nasal congestion on a regular basis, this could be due to allergies. Consider making an appointment with an allergist. They can perform blood and/or skin prick tests to confirm the diagnosis and identify your triggers.
Knowing what sets your symptoms off helps you know what to avoid. Allergists can also recommend or prescribe medication or determine if you are a candidate for immunotherapy.
To learn more or to schedule an appointment with an expert allergist, contact Texas ENT & Allergy today.