The Hazards of Stifling Sneezes
Sneezing is your body’s biological response to the entry of foreign contaminants in your nasal passageway. When the nasal passageways come into contact with foreign particles, it signals the brain to respond by coordinating the muscles to forcefully expel the air as well as the irritants out of the nasal pathway. Sneezing may occur due to the presence of a number of causative agents like pollen, dust, allergens, mold, chemicals, etc. Viral infections can also lead to sneezing. This is because the pathogens cause a great deal of swelling and irritation that triggers the sneeze.
So, sneezing plays a crucial role, and stifling it can have serious consequences on our health. This is especially so if the sneeze is one with a lot of force. Stifling a sneeze by either closing your nasal passage or mouth can damage your eyes or eardrums.
There are a few misconceptions and urban legends that cite suppressing a sneeze as a cause for brain aneurysm. There is no solid medical evidence to back up this claim. According to another popular belief, your eyeballs might burst if you suppress a sneeze. While these are not proven facts, there are scientifically established reasons as to why you should not stifle a sneeze.
One of the key reasons to not stifle a sneeze is that it can result in serious ear infections. When you stop yourself midway in a sneeze, the energy generated by it and the nasal fluids are prevented from leaving your system. Unchecked, a sneeze can exit your nasal cavity with a large amount of force. Sneeze droplets have the potential to move at a speed of 100mph.
Also, by suddenly closing your nose to stifle a sneeze, you force the nasal fluids back into your ears and sinuses. It can result in these parts getting infected. Some of the areas of your ear that are particularly susceptible to infection from this are the Eustachian tubes and soft tubes linking your middle ear with the back of your mouth..
Eardrum ruptures and retinal detachments
Those who tend to stifle exceptionally violent sneezes run the risk of harming or even rupturing their eardrums. It may cause your ears to start bleeding. Although it is uncommon, suppressing a series of sneezes can result in retinal detachment.
Although it is not advisable to stifle a sneeze, it is hazardous for people around you to be exposed to it. Fluids in your sneeze contain pathogens which may infect others. It is advised that you carry a wad of tissues or a handkerchief to avoid spreading pathogens released through sneezes.