Never suppress a sneeze

I was reading this news about a man who had to go through catastrophic consequences when he suppressed a sneeze.

Apparently he pinched his nose and clamped his mouth shut at the same time to prevent  a sneeze. And while doing this, the back of his throat got ruptured, leaving him barely able to speak or swallow, and in considerable pain.

After seven days treatment, the man was discharged with the advice not to block both nostrils when sneezing in future.

person sneezing

Though this man's case is one of the rarest, the doctors caution that halting sneezing via blocking [the] nostrils and mouth is a dangerous manoeuvre and should be be avoided as it may lead to numerous complications.

Professor Adam Carey, a sports injury specialist says (3), "The suppression of a sneeze causes a massive build-up of pressure in our head, which can cause injuries such as a burst eardrum, tearing blood vessels and muscles in the head, damaging the sinuses and even, in rare cases, brain haemorrhages."

Why you shouldn't suppress a sneeze according to Ayurveda?

As per Ayurveda, you must sneeze, yawn, fart, poop, blow your nose, urinate, vomit or cough as soon as you get the urge and never ever try to suppress these natural body mechanisms.

You must drink when thirsty, eat when hungry, sleep when tired, cry when sad and rest when tired.  This is the key to good health, according to Ayurveda.  

Suppressing or stopping a sneeze can cause headaches, stiffness in the neck and shoulders, ear problems, eye problems, sinus problems and even facial paralysis, according to some Ayurvedic texts.

Why do we sneeze?

Sneezing (1) is a natural defensive mechanism to rid the respiratory tract or the lungs from irritant materials. A sneeze expels air forcibly from the mouth and nose explosively to clear the upper airway. The function of sneezing is to expel mucus containing foreign particles or irritants and cleanse the nasal cavity.

Sneezing is an important part of the immune process, helping to keep us healthy and sniffle-free, says (2) Dr.Neil Kao, MD, an allergy and asthma specialist at the Allergic Disease and Asthma Center in Greenville, S.C.

He further says: "Sneezes protect your body by clearing the nose of bacteria and viruses.When something enters your nose or you encounter a trigger that sets off your "sneeze center" in your brain and air along with saliva and mucus -- is forced out of your mouth and nose."

A  natural reflex like a sneeze, therefore, should never be suppressed or stifled.

Interesting & Fun Facts About Sneezing

  • Did you know that plucking your eyebrows can also trigger a sneeze?  
  • Or that you never sneeze in your sleep?
  • And your eyes close involuntarily when you  sneeze?
  • And that we sneeze to give our noses a reboot ?
  • Or that sneezes can travel up to 100 miles per hour?
  • Also sunlight causes many people to sneeze.
  • And that it's quite normal to sneeze in twos or threes. 
  • Or the fact that spray from your sneeze lands further than you think.

How a violent sneeze can be harmful. Examples

While it's true that we should never try to suppress a sneeze, it's also true that a violent sneeze can also cause injuries to the sneezer.

Professor Adam Carey (3) explains: "When a person sneezes violently , the force can throws your body out of kilter. That's called the whiplash effect - as your head moves forwards and backwards very quickly - and can cause all sorts of muscle strain or bone problems." 

Solicitor Victoria Kenny was left bedridden for two years after being seriously injured while sneezing. Her sneeze was so forceful that it caused a ruptured disc in Victoria's spine, which resulted in her sciatic nerve being trapped between two vertebrae.

Lauren, an entertainment manager from Cheshire had to suffer from a slipped disc from a violent sneeze.

Dentist Dr Phil Stemmer (3) says "You have to watch your teeth when they bang together as, in some cases, you could lose a tooth. I have treated people who have lost teeth and also sneezers who have bitten their tongue or cheek, which can be painful and can also lead to a nasty infection."

So violent sneezing can also be harmful

How to sneeze safely?

London-based physiotherapist Sammy Margo (3) advises that if you want to sneeze safely, you have to prepare yourself for the onslaught. 

He continues: "With sneezing we usually anticipate it, so when you feel a sneeze coming you need to engage your abdominal muscles - that is, hold your tummy in - to withstand the whiplash effect of throwing your head backwards and forwards and so causing injury.

If you flop into a sneeze, your body movements are out of control and this can overstretch the ligaments and damage muscles, joints and discs."

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, never ever try to stifle a sneeze but be careful while sneezing and do follow the advice of Sammy Margo when you feel that you are about to sneeze.

Did you suffer any injury while sneezing? Did you ever try to stifle a sneeze? Do you know or anyone who had any health issue while sneezing? Do you have any  interesting sneezing trivia to share? Do drop a comment.

woman sneezing into a paper towel


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  1. Don't stifle that sneeze! It could cause eardrum ruptures or break a blood vessel in your eye.

  2. Dr Ramesh Hegde2:18 PM

    If you try to suppress the velocity of air coming up from the lungs, then you could cause damage to the middle ear, which is where the hearing bones are. The force of the air being pushed at speed into the Eustachian tubes can affect the ear drum and the small bones that vibrate when we hear sounds.

  3. Krupa2:38 PM

    Rubbing the nose, breathing forcefully through the nose, and pressing on the upper lip below the nose may relieve the urge to sneeze, but once the sneeze starts, it is usually best to just let it go,"

  4. sneezing can project smaller particles 10 to 12 feet, so it’s important to cover your mouth,


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