We all know at least one person in our lives whose solitary sneeze can scare the life out of anyone. And if you are that person in someone else’s life then you might not be very proud of it.
But don't fret; the alternative is much worse.
Science says people who are friendly and outgoing, for instance, are most likely to have a loud and explosive sneeze.
“Sneezes are like laughter,” says Dr. Alan Hirsch, a neurologist, psychiatrist and founder of the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago. “Some [laughs] are loud, some are soft. And it’s similar with sneezing. It will often be the same from youth onward in terms of what it sounds like.”
Or, according to Jayakar Nayak, assistant professor of otolaryngology at the Stanford Sinus Center, "Some people may be recruiting more muscles into the violent sneeze response."
Therefore, you need not to be embarrassed next time you blow away someone with the air coming out of your lungs through your nose.
But mortar shell sneezes can sometimes be dangerous. They can cause disabilities and, in some severe cases, even death.
In 2009, a series of massive sneezes triggered a brain hemorrhage and heart attack that killed a man in Devon, England. He was heard and seen by staff at his care home sneezing violently two days before he died.
However, this doesn’t mean one should try to hold their sneeze. A lot of people do it and it could be just as dangerous for the human body.
“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 hemorrhages,” Professor Adam Carey, a sports injury specialist, told Daily Mail in an interview.
Following are some of the many problems stifling an achoo can cause:
"I wouldn't recommend suppressing a sneeze by any method, whether by pinching one's nose or consciously sneezing into a closed throat," says Alan Wild, a head and neck surgeon and assistant professor of otolaryngology at Saint Louis University School of Medicine.
"Your nose connects to your eustachian tube, which connects to your middle-ear and, so, you could also push things through the eustachian tube and back into the middle ear [such as] mucus that's infected, and you can get middle ear infections because of that," Cleveland Clinic allergy Dr. Rachel Szekely explained in an interview.
Sometimes, after holding back a sneeze, if you feel constant pain in your throat it could mean that you fractured your voice box, aka the larynx.
According to a research study: “Laryngeal trauma mechanisms can be classified as blunt or penetrating and as external or internal. Internal trauma is often iatrogenic, typically following intubation, or may be rarely caused by sneezing with a closed mouth, so called “closed airway sneeze.”
Back injuries, cracked ribs
Apart from injuring your voice box or ears, holding a sneeze can also affect your back and chest cavities.
“I’ve seen patients with a ruptured eardrum or pulled back muscles, and you hear about cracked ribs,” says Dr. Michael Benninger, an otolaryngologist—that’s an ear, nose and throat doctor—and chairman of the Head and Neck Institute at Cleveland Clinic.
So, it’s probably not a good idea to hold your mucus-filled air inside your body. Next time you feel a sneeze, remember, better out than in. Even if it blows people away from you.