Sneeze is a protective autonomic reflex (not under the control of brain) of the human body. It helps in expelling the irritants, bacteria, virus or any other particles that entered the nasal cavity. In response to the irritants, histamine and other mediators are released and leads to sneezing.
Sneezing is nothing but expelling the irritants and air at greater pressure with velocity of about 100-500 miles per hour. When a person attempts to hold the sneeze, the pressure further increases (5-24 times), and it is directed into the human body itself. Essentially, there are many sensitive parts in the human body that cannot withstand that greater pressure and can cause damage to the organs. The at-risk individuals for this damage are pre-existing musculo-skeletal injury, any ear nose and throat problems. Others include weakness in the throat musculature, osteoporosis, pre-existing aneurysm, etc.
Dangers of withholding Sneeze
Before now, you probably thought it was courtesy withholding sneeze. While this piece won’t dabble in that, keep in mind, nonetheless, that you are exposing yourself to certain thingss.
Injury to larynx
Acute cervical pain
Facial nerve injuries
Eustachian tube damages
Ruptured ear drum
Middle ear damage, Disruption of osscicles leading to permanent hearing loss
Pseudo-mediatinum (the air gets trapped between lungs and heart in the chest)
Rupture of aneurysm
Injury to diaphragm and other musculature.
It is a common practice to cover your mouth with hands while sneezing. The good thing is, this leads to dissemination of the entire harmful particles on to the hands. In addition, they get contaminated as well as contaminate everything else you touch. It can be a potential source of infection, which could affect other members of your family. All respiratory illnesses are communicable and are spread this way .
The practice of sneezing over the elbow should be encouraged to prevent the hands from contamination and further spread of infection. More importantly, hand washing should be encouraged after sneezing.
Yang W., Sahota R.S., Das S. Snap, Crackle and Pop: When Sneezing leads to Crackling in the Neck, BMJ Case Rep Published Online First 2018. doi: 10.1136/bcr-2016- 218906