To sneeze or not to sneeze..that is the question!

So how does one die from a sneeze?

Ok you don’t really die from the sneeze, you die from complications of sneezing.

 In this case, a 79-year-old man sneezed violently. What you need to know is he wasn't healthy, he has both diabetes and chronic heart conditions, and because of the heart condition, was being treated with Warfarin, a chemical which prevents blood from clotting. This is a good thing when you have a heart condition, you don't want any stray clots going anywhere. Clots in the lungs can cause pulmonary embolism, a very deadly condition. Clots in the brain can cause stroke, also potentially deadly. And of course a blood clot in one of the main arteries in the heart can cause a massive heart attack. So the doctors were doing the right thing, and preventing as many clots as possible.

So what happened? When the man sneezed, the violence of it, whether due to change in pressure or him throwing himself forward, resulted in something called a subdural hematoma. This is when a blood vessel on top of the brain, in the membranes surrounding it (specifically under the dura mater, the nice thick membrane closest to your skull), ruptures, and blood builds up in that area. Usually you have a clotting mechanism to stop you from losing too much blood, but because this patient was on Warfarin for other reasons, his blood wasn't able to clot very well. This means that the hematoma spread, and with his coronary artery disease, the man died two days later.

Unfortunately, this means that nothing could really have been done for him. You can't stop a sneeze, and the possibility of the hematoma from a sneeze was probably not even on the mind of the doctors compared to the possibility of a blood clot causing his demise.


So… if you’re the go to extemes to stay outta harms way type and you’ve decide to never sneeze again. What if you hold back your sneeze?

Most injuries from stifling a sneeze are just plain old bad luck. Still, if you're about to sneeze, it's better to just go ahead and ah-choo!(But don’t forget to cover your mouth!)

"I wouldn't recommend suppressing a sneeze by any method, whether by pinching one's nose or consciously sneezing into a closed throat," said Alan Wild, a head and neck surgeon and assistant professor of otolaryngology at Saint Louis University School of Medicine.

It's important to note the difference between restraining the urge to sneeze and trying to stop a sneeze in progress.

"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," Wild said.

So what could happen if you don't follow the doctor's advice? In reality….most likely nothing.

"The injuries that might occur are flukes or are related to some underlying anatomical oddity."

But if you happen to be one of these unlucky cases, Wild said a holding in a sneeze may lead to several unhealthy situations. A blocked sneeze could:

·       cause injury to the diaphragm

·       break a blood vessel in the white of the eye, causing bruising of the white part around the iris

·       force air up the Eustachian tubes in your ears and cause a ruptured ear drum or an injury to the inner ear that could lead to vertigo or hearing loss

·       weaken a blood vessel in the brain and cause it to rupture due to the momentary elevation of blood pressure

"The risk of an injury is low but you might just be the unlucky one," Wild said. "Some also are concerned that stifling the sneeze is just a temporary outcome that whatever provoked the sneeze is still present and will cause another sneeze shortly."

Some people may suffer from aggressive sneezes, which can cause another set of health problems.

·       A violent sneeze by someone who had sinus surgery can push air into the space around the eye and cause it to bulge, or push air into the brain cavity and cause an intense headache or even stroke

·       A violent sneeze could cause a neck injury from a sudden extension of the neck

·       A violent sneeze can cause momentary incontinence

Some of our sneezes still puzzle doctors. Most believe the sneeze reflex is important for getting rid of irritants like particles of pollution, dust, or pollen from our noses. But not all sneezes are related to things in the nose.

"Many people sneeze when exposed to bright sunlight, while some people sneeze during sex (could be great, could be awful), after administration of certain intravenous anesthetics, eating too much or with certain neurological diseases such as epilepsy," Wild said. "This type of sneezing is poorly understood."

So don’t hold those sneezes…. its MORE likely they will hurt you if you do!

Wishing you the best health-TheVentMaskTeam