Unexpected dangers of sneezing

Unexpected dangers of sneezing
Unexpected dangers of sneezing

The beginning allergy season, when people sneeze around, coincided unfortunately with the COVID-19 pandemic, a disease transmitted by droplets of mucus from the nose and mouth. Sneezers are viewed with suspicion, so someone chooses to suppress the impulse or squeeze their mouth and nose with their hand. Better not to!

He was 35 when he sneezed with all his might. He must have got something in the nose. It's common: one small study of volunteers keeping diaries showed that three out of ten people sneeze more than once a day, but less often than four (most do it less than once a day). "Sneezing consists of three phases: a deep breath, then a breath holding and a sharp strong contraction of all respiratory muscles, which leads to a powerful exhalation through the closed larynx," explains the doctor of medical sciences, head of the ENT department of the National Medical Research Center of Children's Health and professor of the First Moscow State Medical University named after THEM. Sechenov Yuri Rusetsky.

It is believed that in this way the nose is cleared of dust and germs, but not always. "Sometimes sneezing can be the result of irritation of nerve endings in other parts, for example, in the intestinal mucosa or skin," says Yuri Rusetsky. Some sneeze from sunlight, sexual arousal, or after a hearty meal. Probably, their nerve fibers are intertwined in such a way that a false alarm signal is sent to the respiratory center of the brain. And recently, scientists have found special variants of genes in people sneezing in the light. However, it is still unclear exactly how these genes affect.

There is also a known case when a girl sneezed at the same time, like clockwork. The doctors observing her suggested that her body reacted in this way to the change of day and night. And five years ago in America, the story of a girl named Kathleen, who sneezed 12 thousand times a day, almost non-stop, made a splash in America. Trouble like Kathleen's is extremely rare. It is believed that the reason is in the head, and usually sneezing goes away by itself. But at least once, the antipsychotic drug haloperidol helped, which indirectly confirms the hypothesis about the mental roots of this disorder. In short, sneezing is not as easy as it seems.

'ABC News report on a girl who sneezed nonstop'

He was 35 when he sneezed with all his might. Previously, he did not complain about his health, but then he was painfully shot in the neck from the left side. An hour later, it only got worse: half of the body was weakened and numb. When he woke up the next day, he noticed a strange sensation in his right foot, which gradually spread to the trunk. In addition, he suspiciously did not want to go to the toilet.

At the hospital, the man's blood pressure was measured: it turned out to be increased, although it soon decreased. The doctor checked whether the patient's contorted face feels pain and fever: yes, but less than usual. Below the neck, sensitivity disappeared, the left arm and leg became limp, reflexes were weakened. The unfortunate man was put in the ward, after five days he felt a little better. But even after nine weeks, he did not fully recover.

This story seems to be fiction, but it actually happened. The man, whose name was not included in the report, appears to have damaged an artery by sneezing. Hemorrhage occurred in the cervical spine, that is, the blood flow was disturbed. Because of this, the nerves suffered, and then pain and other symptoms appeared. Why this happened, doctors are not completely sure. Perhaps the fact is that the patient's left vertebral artery was smaller than the right one. In itself, this is not scary, but a strong sneeze could play a fatal role.

"Due to the increase in intracranial pressure, an aneurysm may burst," says otorhinolaryngologist Yaroslav Boklin, after listening to this story. According to her, this does not threaten every second person, but generally happens, but for this, there must almost always be an already existing pathology.

It also happens not like that. One day, a 15-year-old guy was playing basketball and got a knee in the eye. It hurt, but nothing special. A few hours later, he sneezed and immediately felt the skin around his eye swell.

The next day, the swelling did not subside, and the young man went to the hospital. There he underwent a computed tomogram - the picture showed a fracture of the orbit and an accumulation of gas in the same place (like a lung disease, such an accumulation is called emphysema, only orbital). It sounds creepy, but the guy didn't have to be hospitalized. The doctor ordered him to take antibiotics and use a decongestant spray - after a few weeks, the young man recovered completely.

Another time, a woman sneezed, heard ringing in her ears, felt dizzy, and went deaf in one ear. At that moment she was 25 years old, but she did not immediately apply for help. The doctor examined her and at first found no damage. Then he cut the eardrum, penetrated into the middle ear and found that the base of the stirrup, the smallest bone in our body measuring only a couple of millimeters, broke into pieces. Because of this, the woman lost her hearing.

Why the bone cracked is not fully understood. Perhaps the reason is this: due to a sneeze, the pressure of the cerebrospinal fluid jumped, followed by an increase in the pressure of the fluid in the ear, and the bone could not stand it. Or maybe the woman sneezed with her mouth closed. Because of this, air pressure increases dramatically, which is directed into the inner ear and can damage the bones and eardrum. Be that as it may, the doctor put a steel plate on the woman, and six months later, the diseased ear heard almost as well as the healthy one.

According to Yaroslava Boklina, problems in the middle ear are the most common complication after an unsuccessful sneeze. True, as a rule, it is not a fracture that occurs, but otitis media - an inflammation that is easier to cure. Most often, children have otitis media.

An unsuccessful sneeze can lead to a wide variety of injuries. Someone tears the larynx, someone has a prolonged sneeze ends with a myocardial infarction, and the British tabloid Daily Mail a few years ago reported a 17-year-old teenager who sneezed six times in a row and died of a cerebral hemorrhage. Yuri Rusetsky says that due to sneezing, air can enter the cranial cavity, someone starts liquorrhea - fluid flows out that washes the brain, and those who have recently undergone surgery have bleeding. Yaroslava Boklina says that there have been cases when people, sneezing, damaged the esophagus with a piece of food.

  • When the impulse comes, try to warn others, step back and turn away.
  • Group together to dampen the force of the escaping air.
  • Do not draw too much air in the first phase of a sneeze.
  • No need to sneeze with your mouth and nose tightly closed.
  • Cover your mouth with a sleeve, or better with a disposable handkerchief, which must be thrown away immediately. It is more customary to do this with the palm of your hand, but then mucus with bacteria and viruses will get on it. If you then touch the door handle, elevator button, someone else's hand, then these surfaces will be contaminated and someone can become infected. During the COVID-19 pandemic, this rule is especially important.

Some people manage to interrupt a sneeze by rubbing their nose or exhaling forcefully through it. But because of COVID-19, you shouldn't try: suddenly you have virus particles on your hand (or in your nose). In addition, you wanted to sneeze, most likely for a reason: the body is trying to cleanse itself. Better to sneeze. Regardless of how you do this, wash your hands with soap or disinfectant afterwards. And be healthy!

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