Sunday, January 27, 2019

Should You Stifle Your Sneeze?

Ann Althouse, who is soon to have cataract surgery, has been looking for ways to avoid sneezing. She's been advised that sneezing while recovering from the procedure is not good. It appears she may have found one method for avoiding sneezes in this Youtube video.

My brother-in-law might want to see this video. Last week, during a visit, he sneezed. I thought nothing of it, but he said, "Excuse me."

Then he told me, "I hate to sneeze." I'd never thought about sneezing as something one either hates or loves, just something that your body does.

But I can understand why, after cataract surgery, sneezing isn't a good idea.

So, does this anti-sneeze technique work?

After reading Althouse's post, I felt a sneeze coming on. (Maybe because I had sneezing on my mind..) So I tried the little technique recommended here and, I didn't sneeze.

It didn't, though, prevent what always happens to me after a sneeze: the need to blow my nose.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, it's usually not a good idea to suppress our sneezes:
The next time you get the urge to stifle a window-rattling sneeze, you might want to reconsider. It could be harmful to your health.

Clamping your nostrils and mouth shut might avoid disturbing others. But it could damage your eardrums or sinuses or cause an ear infection.

Sneezes are surprisingly forceful. The sudden, powerful expulsion of air can propel mucous droplets at rates of up to 100 miles per hour... 
Some people sneeze because of colds. Colds may produce a yellowish nasal discharge that signals an infection.

It’s best for that discharge to move out of the body. Stifling a sneeze only keeps it in the body — and could move it further inside.

“By stifling a sneeze, you could push infected mucus through the eustachian tube and back into the middle ear,” Dr. Szekely says. “You can get middle ear infections because of that.”

Sneezing is a protective reflex. It means an irritant has gotten into your nose that your body wants to keep from getting to your sinuses or lungs. When you sneeze, your body is trying to rid itself of the intruder.
Often, I tell people after they've sneezed, "Gesundheit [German for Health]" or "God bless you." Doing so is probably rooted in a cultural idea that sneezes are bad.

But, in fact, they're meant to protect us from the bad, the body's way of getting rid of an intruder. So, the folks at the Cleveland Clinic say, when you feel a sneeze coming on, just cover your mouth and nose and let it rip. (Unless you're recovering from cataract surgery or wanting to avoid sneezing on someone while giving them a massage, I suppose.)

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