It is generally advised against attempting to hold a sneeze, a reflex that many of us naturally try to do. When we sneeze, our bodies are actively participating in a defensive action, forcefully expelling irritants from the nasal passages in order to protect our respiratory systems.
Attempting to inhibit this reflex may result in an unwelcome rise in pressure in the nasal region, potentially causing discomfort or, in more serious cases, causing harm such as ruptured blood vessels or damage to the ears.
To prevent the spread of microbes, it is recommended to refrain from suppressing a sneeze. Instead, it is important to cover the nose and mouth with a tissue or the elbow crease.
Dangers of holding a sneeze
Increased pressure: Preventing a sneeze by sealing the mouth and nose can increase the force in the nasal passages and respiratory system, leading to various negative consequences, such as harm.
Bursting blood vessels: The forceful impact of a suppressed sneeze can cause harm to fragile blood vessels, specifically in the eyes, nose, or ears, leading to discomfort and possible complications.
Ear damage: The act of restraining a sneeze has the potential to direct excessive force towards the middle ear, jeopardizing the stability of its delicate components and potentially leading to ear pain, reduced hearing ability, or other problems related to hearing.
Sinus issues: Hindering a sneeze can impede the normal flow of mucus, resulting in the accumulation of mucus in the sinuses. With the passage of time, this obstruction can advance to the development of infections or ailments like sinusitis.
Headaches: The abrupt increase in pressure caused by a suppressed sneeze has the potential to trigger or exacerbate headaches, including tension headaches and migraines.
Spread of infection: Inhibiting the sneezing reflex can heighten the likelihood of retaining irritants and pathogens within the respiratory tract, potentially resulting in prolonged illness or further health complications.
Reduced sneeze effectiveness: Preventing a sneeze impedes the body’s natural reflex to purify the respiratory system from allergens, viruses, and bacteria, potentially prolonging the duration or exacerbating the symptoms of an illness.
What should you do instead?
Please utilize a tissue or the crook of your arm: It is advisable to use a tissue to cover your nose and mouth when you feel the need to sneeze. This not only serves as a preventive measure but also demonstrates thoughtfulness by containing the droplets at their origin.
If tissue is not readily available, the recommended alternative is to sneeze into the bend of your elbow. This action acts as a protective barrier, greatly minimizing the risk of spreading germs.
Wash your hands: After sneezing, it is essential for maintaining hygiene to thoroughly cleanse your hands. By utilizing soap and water, engaging in a vigorous scrub for a duration of 20 seconds, you can effectively eliminate any potential germs that may have been encountered, thus upholding a commendable level of personal cleanliness.
Use hand sanitizer: In the absence of immediate access to soap and water, utilizing a hand sanitizer with a minimum of 60% alcohol content can serve as a viable substitute. This expedient sanitizing option effectively diminishes the presence of germs until such time that you can thoroughly cleanse your hands.
Avoid touching your face: Please exercise caution in refraining from touching your face after sneezing, particularly in the regions of your eyes, nose, and mouth. This mindful action acts as a protective measure against the infiltration of germs into your mucous membranes, which are frequently targeted by infections.
Dispose of tissues properly: If tissue was used during a sneeze, it is crucial to promptly dispose of it in a trash can in a responsible manner. Subsequently, it is necessary to perform proper hand washing to eliminate any germs that may have been transmitted while discarding the tissue.
Note: Next time, remember not to hold in a sneeze. Instead, use a tissue or your elbow to cover it, turn away, and make sure to keep your hands clean to stop the spread of germs.