Containing a sneeze by simultaneously pinching your nose and closing your mouth can cause substantial injury, doctors say.
The warning comes from ear, nose and throat specialists at the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust in Britain, who recently treated a 34-year-old man that showed up in the emergency department complaining of strong pain when swallowing and serious difficulty speaking.
He described a popping sensation in his neck and swelling there after trying to hold in a forceful sneeze.
The doctors diagnosed a spontaneous perforation of the pharynx, an “unusual condition” they say is most often caused by coughing, straining, forceful retching or vomiting.
They also discovered air bubbles in the deep tissue and muscles of the man’s chest.
To prevent a deep neck infection and inflammation of chest tissue, he was admitted to hospital, fed via a nasogastric tube and given intravenous antibiotics for a week until his symptoms subsided, the doctors write in the British Medical Journal Case Reports.
The man was discharged with the advice not to block both nostrils when sneezing, which the doctors describe as a “dangerous manoeuvre”.
It may lead to “numerous complications” such as air trapped in the chest, a burst eardrum, and even rupture of a cerebral aneurysm, a bulge in a blood vessel of the brain.