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image of a woman sneezing

Image by Sambeet D from Pixabay

It’s as natural as breathing and your body will usually give you a small time-frame of warning before you have to sneeze. The same with coughing, there is little or nothing you can do to avoid it. Of course it’s no problem, you just put your hand or handkerchief over your mouth or pinch your nose and there you have it, sneeze done, get on with your life. Here in Cyprus where I live it can be quite a dusty place in the summer, so I tend to sneeze quite a lot. It’s not something I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about, until now.  Today is the six week anniversary of me tripping, falling, and breaking seven ribs on my left side and I have been attempting to avoid sneezing and coughing in all that time. The reason is going to be pretty obvious to those who have suffered broken ribs, it hurts, a lot, when you sneeze especially if you try to suppress the sneeze or cough. Learning to sneeze so that you reduce the possibility of causing yourself a lot of pain is not something that comes naturally to us, especially when we are in a social gathering. But there is growing evidence from health experts that suppressing a sneeze  is potentially bad for you. I know in my current state of health a simple sneeze or cough can lead to a lot of pain.

For starters, even without an injury like broken ribs, you should bear in mind that suppressing a sneeze is probably a bad idea. Pinching your nose to stop a sneeze can lead to a build up of air pressure within your body, which can cause problems for your ears and in extreme cases a rupture in your throat tissue. There have been instances recorded of ruptured eardrums or even brain aneurysms. Ask your doctor, but I find that it’s certainly helped me avoid a lot of pain by not obstructing both nostrils while sneezing. Pressure in my body from suppressing a sneeze led me to suffer a lot of pain when I first broke my ribs and I soon learned to let it all out when a sneeze sneaks up on me. So now I keep my mouth wide open and give off a loud bark noise as opposed to a delicate schoo sound.

Of course the downside to this is that you’re not only going to be making a loud noise, you’re going to be expelling a lot of air, mucus and lord knows what else. So try and sneeze away from people standing close by, or you may find yourself losing a few friends.

Copyright © Tom Kane 2019


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