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3 Reasons Why Holding in a Sneeze Is Bad for Your Health

It starts with a tickle in your nose. The tickle becomes a tingle, then a twitch, and suddenly your face becomes a snot volcano! Cold and flu season is in full swing, which means folks are sneezing up a storm. Your instinct might be to prevent that disgusting discharge from making it past your face, but learn why stopping a sneeze is terrible for your health.

Now, don’t take that as an excuse to sneeze in strangers’ faces. You expel 100,000 germs from your nasal cavity every time you sneeze, and at a breathless 100 kilometers per hour! It’s best to shoot those germs into a tissue or, if one isn’t available, into the crook of your elbow. Doctors do not advise sneezing into your hands, as that’s a great way to get other people sick. Yuck!

But if sneezes are so packed with germs, why are doctors telling us not to plug our noses? Natural Wellness has 3 very good reasons why…

  1. It Can Break Your Ear Drums: Yes, you read that right. Holding in a sneeze can actually rupture your ear drums. According to Dr. Allison Woodall, an audiologist at the University of Arkansas, “Prior to a sneeze, a significant amount of air pressure builds in the lungs in preparation of being forced through the nasal cavity to clear irritants out of the nasal passages.” When you remember that air’s coming out at a brisk 100 mph, it’s less of a surprise that pinching your nose or holding your mouth closed can damage your sinuses. Blocking a sneeze can direct the pressurized air back into the middle ear cavity. As Dr. Woodall told UAMS, “This type of trauma to the membranous structures of the middle and inner ear has caused sudden severe sensorineural hearing loss, conductive hearing loss and even vertigo.”
  2. It Can Perforate Your Throat: If you enjoy eating solid food, don’t hold in your sneezes. That was a hard lesson learned by the subject of a recent BMJ case report. The unnamed British man spent two weeks in the hospital after pinching off a vigorous sneeze. When his throat began to swell, he took himself to the hospital where physicians discovered a perforation in his soft tissue. “This 34-year-old chap said he was always trying to hold his sneeze because he thinks it is very unhygienic to sneeze into the atmosphere or into someone’s face. That means he’s been holding his sneezes for the last 30 years or so, but this time it was different,” explained Dr. Wanding Yang, who authored the report. Thankfully, the man did not require surgery…but he did spend seven days eating through a tube. A serious injury like this is rare, but it’s not the only way a sneeze can ruin your day. Urban legends may claim that holding in a sneeze will cause a stroke or pop a kidney, and while neither is true, people have injured their diaphragms, ruptured blood vessels in their eyes, and even ruptured blood vessels in their brains.
  3. It Can Make You Sicker: Sneezing might already be a sign that you’re sick, but bottling it up can just make you sicker. When you’re under the weather, your snot turns yellow or green as a result of infection. It’s an obvious signal that your body wants to get that gunk out of its system! “By stifling a sneeze, you could push infected mucus through the eustachian tube and back into the middle ear,” says Dr. Rachel Szekely, an immunologist at the Department of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine at Cleveland Clinic. “You can get middle ear infections because of that.”

So what should you do if you feel that tickle between your nostrils? Grab a tissue and let it go, let it go, don’t hold it back anymore…

How Do You Keep Your Sinuses Clear?

With all this talk of runny noses, you might be getting a tingle yourself. This winter, if you’re dealing with nasal congestion, try Natural Wellness’ Sinus Clear. This fast-acting supplement supports sinus health and stimulates the immune system to help you breathe clear again. Just a few drops taken directly or mixed with a glass of water and snotty sneezes will be on the run!

Sinus Clear’s blend of botanical extracts includes fresh horseradish root (to support bronchial, lung and sinus functions), garlic (a powerful immune booster), peppermint (which contains menthol, a well known decongestant), yarrow (to dry the sinuses), spilanthes herb (for its anesthetic properties) and echinacea. Check out the supplement page for a full breakdown of its herbal ingredients.

Christensen, J. (2018). Holding in a sneeze can be a literal pain in the neck. Retrieved on 1/19/18 from http://www.cnn.com/2018/01/15/health/sneeze-blows-hole-in-throat/index.html.

Lungs, Breathing and Allergy Team. (2014). Don’t Stifle That Sneeze! You Could Get Hurt. Retrieved on 1/19/18 from https://health.clevelandclinic.org/2014/04/dont-stifle-that-sneeze-you-could-get-hurt/.

UAMS. Can holding in a sneeze cause hearing damage? Retrieved on 1/19/18 from https://uamshealth.com/healthlibrary2/medicalmyths/holdinginasneeze/.

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