Stifling a sneeze

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Madison McGuire

Many of us were warned as children to not hold in a sneeze, because our “heart would stop” or our “brain would explode.” While this seems like dramatic exaggeration, there may be a kernel of truth.

It might seem appropriate to pinch your nose and quiet the sneeze in certain social situations. However, recent research suggests it’s better to just let it out– while covering your mouth of course.

The diaphragm and chest muscles contract during a sneeze to clear mucus, irritants, and germs out of our system at approximately 100 miles per hour. According to ENT specialists from NYU, “suppressing the sneeze by holding the nose or mouth increases the pressure in the the sinuses, nasal cavity, or chest about 5 to 24 times of that during a normal sneeze.” Infected mucus can be pushed into the middle ear, causing infection or a ruptured eardrum. Blocking the nostril and mouth during a sneeze can also lead to air trapped in the chest, and in rare cases, the rupture of a cerebral aneurysm, a tear in the throat, or cracked cribs.

Although sneezing might seem embarrassing or unsanitary in a crowd of people, take care of your health and let your body’s natural reflexes take control. It best to sneeze or cough into the fold of your elbow.–maybe-not


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