Feel a sneeze coming on? Doctors are telling people to just let it all out.
A 34-year-old man found out the dangers of stifling a sneeze when he ruptured his throat after pinching his nose and shutting his mouth when he felt one coming on, according to a case study published in the British Medical Journal on Monday.
The report, titled “Snap, Crackle and Pop,” said that the man told doctors he tried to hold in a “forceful sneeze,” but felt a “popping sensation in his neck and some bilateral neck swelling.” He then had trouble swallowing and speaking.
Doctors performed an X-ray and discovered the man tore his pharynx, the section between the mouth and the esophagus, after finding “streaks of air” underneath his skin. The condition was called spontaneous perforation of the pharynx, or Boerhaave’s syndrome.
The man was hospitalized to prevent a deep neck infection and had to be fed by using a tube to allow his esophagus to heal. He made a full recovery after seven days in the hospital.
“Halting sneeze via blocking nostrils and mouth is a dangerous maneuver and should be avoided, as it may lead to numerous complications such as pneumomediastinum, perforation of tympanic membrane and even rupture of cerebral aneurysm,” the report said.
Though rupturing the throat by stifling a sneeze is rare, it’s better to just let it all out. “Spontaneous” rupture of the pharynx is usually caused by trauma caused by heavy coughing, vomiting or gagging.