You know the feeling: You're about to sneeze, but don't want to spread germs so you try to hold it in. But let this man's experience be a lesson that forcefully holding in a sneeze may not be a great plan – considering you could rupture the back of your throat in the process.
A 34-year-old man recently did just that and ended up in the emergency room in a Leicester hospital in the U.K., according to an article published Monday in BMJ Case Reports. Doctors wrote that the man's symptoms surprised medical professionals at first, given that spontaneous rupture like this is rare and brought on typically by trauma, vomiting, retching or intense coughing.
The man told doctors he was trying to halt a sneeze by pinching his nose and clamping his mouth shut simultaneously. This resulted in a popping sensation in his neck that swelled up following his attempt. Later, swallowing became painful and he practically lost his voice.
Upon examination, doctors heard popping and crackling sounds from his neck to his rib cage, meaning that air bubbles were in his chest. When a scan confirmed this diagnosis, they admitted him to the hospital due to his risk of serious complications.
RELATED: Healthiest states in the US
Healthiest states in America in 2017
Healthiest states in America in 2017
50. Mississippi ranked as the state with the highest rate of cardiovascular deaths, has a high smoking prevalence, and a high rate of children in poverty. The state does have a relatively low rate of drug overdose deaths.
49. Louisiana has high rates of obesity, physical inactivity, and infant mortality. It also had the highest rate of infection in the US.
48. Arkansas has a high prevalence of obesity, physical inactivity, and smoking. The state also has the fewest dentists per 100,000 people of 50 states.
47. Alabama has a high prevalence of cardiovascular deaths and diabetes and a low number of dentists for its population. The state also has the lowest number of mental health providers.
46. West Virginia has the highest rate of drug overdose deaths in the US, the highest rate of obesity, and the highest rate of smoking, though it also one of the most insured populations in the country and had the highest rate of public health funding per person.
45. Tennessee has a relatively high obesity rate, and a high prevalence of smoking. The state also has among the highest violent crime rates in the country.
44. South Carolina has a fairly high infectious disease rate and at the same time has low teen vaccination rates. The state also has a relatively low number of dentists.
43. Oklahoma, which also rose in the rankings from 2016 when it came in at 46, has a high cardiovascular death rate. Oklahoma also was among the states with the highest uninsured rate, while having a relatively high number of mental health providers.
42. Kentucky, which rose in the rankings from 45 in 2016, has a high prevalence of smoking, along with the highest rate of cancer deaths. Kentucky also had the second highest rate of drug deaths, next to West Virginia. The state also has one of the lowest uninsured rates in the US.
41. Georgia is among the least physically active states, and has some of the highest child poverty rates, and a relatively high percentage of uninsured people. On a more positive note, Georgia was among the states with the least drug overdose death rates.
40. Missouri fell 16 places from 2016's rankings. Missouri has a high rate of violent crime, contributing to its lower ranking.
39. Ohio was one of the states that's experienced the largest increase in drug-related death rates. The state also had relatively high air pollution and smoking rates.
38. Indiana experienced a decrease in air pollution levels in the past five years. The state had relatively lower rates of children in poverty, while its smoking and obesity rates were relatively high.
37. In the last five years, Nevada has seen its cancer death rates decline, while cardiovascular death rates have increased. Smoking rates have also dropped over the last five years. Nevada has among the highest uninsured rates.
36. New Mexico has among the highest rates of premature death and drug deaths, though it has among the lowest rates of cancer and cardiovascular deaths.
35. Michigan has among the lowest public health funding per person, though it does have a relatively low uninsured rate and a high number of primary care doctors.
34. Texas has a relatively low rate of drug deaths, though it does have among the fewest primary care doctors for its population. The state had among the lowest smoking rates as well as cancer death rates.
33. North Carolina has among the highest infectious disease rates, though it had among the highest immunization rates for children. The state also has a higher uninsured rate.
32. Florida improved its rankings in 2017, with the report citing improvements to rankings in children in poverty, and disparity in health status.
31. Arizona has among the most air pollution in the US, along with relatively few mental health providers in the state. The state has low rates of cancer and cardiovascular deaths.
30. Delaware saw a decrease in its cancer death rate over the last five years.
29. Alaska was one of the most physically active states in the US. It also had the second-highest uninsured rate in the country.
28. Pennsylvania is among the states with the highest number of primary care doctors for its population, but it's among the lowest when it comes to mental health providers.
27. Illinois saw a large decrease in smoking rates over the past five years, though obesity prevalence did increase over the same period. Illinois also had the second highest air pollution levels in the US.
26. Wyoming had the least amount of air pollution of the 50 states. The state also had among the lowest rates of diabetes in the country.
25. Kansas saw its obesity prevalence decrease over the past year from 34% of adults to 31%. The state also had among the lowest rates of drug overdose deaths.
24. South Dakota experienced an increase in smoking prevalence over the last five years.
23. Maine dropped in the 2017 rankings from the 15th spot. The state had the least amount of violent crime in the country, and a relatively high number of mental health providers.
22. Montana had relatively low rates of obesity and diabetes, and high rates of physical activity.
21. Wisconsin had the highest rate of excessive drinking in the country. The state also has among the lowest uninsured rates.
20. Oregon is among the most physically active states in the country and is one of the states with the most mental health providers.
19. Virginia has among the lowest rates of drug overdose deaths in the country and a low violent crime rate.
18. North Dakota has low levels of air pollution, and a lower rate of drug overdose deaths. Smoking has become more prevalent in the state over the last five years.
17. California saw a large decrease in the number of people who were uninsured in the state. California also had among the lowest obesity prevalence, and smoking rates. The state did have the most air pollution in the country, however.
16. Maryland has a low prevalence of smoking and child poverty rate, while the state does have relatively high levels of air pollution and a higher violent crime rate.
15. Iowa has one of the lowest rates of drug overdose deaths in the country, and a high insured rate. The state is among the states with the fewest mental health providers, though.
14. Idaho has some of the cleanest air in the US, and a low violent crime rate. The state does have the fewest primary care doctors for its population.
13. Nebraska has the second-lowest rate of drug overdose deaths in the country, though it is among the states with the highest rates of excessive drinking.
12. New Jersey has a low prevalence of smoking and is tied with Massachusetts for the most dentists for its population. The state is also one of the least physically active in the US.
11. Rhode Island has a relatively low rate of uninsured people, but a high rate of drug overdose deaths.
10. Since the start of the health rankings in 1990, New York has risen 30 places to get to #10. The state has among the most primary care doctors for its population and has a relatively low cancer death rate.
9. Washington has a low smoking prevalence and a low rate of physical inactivity.
8. New Hampshire had among the highest rates of drug overdose deaths in the US, while it has the lowest rate of children in poverty and a low violent crime rate.
7. Colorado has the lowest prevalence of both diabetes and obesity in the US. The state also has the second lowest rate of cancer deaths in the country.
6. Minnesota has one of the lowest uninsured populations in the US and the lowest rate of cardiovascular deaths. The state does have a high prevalence of excessive drinking.
5. Connecticut has one of the lowest rates of obesity in the country and has one of the lowest percentages of uninsured people. But the state does have a higher rate of drug overdose deaths.
4. Utah had a meteoric rise in the rankings based in part on its improved rankings in air pollution and immunizations among children. Utah also has the lowest prevalence of smoking and the highest rate of physical activity.
3. Vermont has a low uninsured population, and a low prevalence of diabetes. In the last five years, the drug overdose death rates in the state have increased by 50%.
2. Hawaii, which held the top spot on the health ranking for five years, has a low prevalence of obesity and smoking, along with the second lowest percentage of people who are uninsured.
1. Massachusetts ranked the healthiest state for the first time in the ranking's 28-year history. "Massachusetts’ strengths include the lowest percentage of uninsured at 2.7% of the population, a low prevalence of obesity and a high number of mental health providers," the report said.
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"When you sneeze, air comes out of you at about 150 miles per hour," Dr. Anthony Aymat, director for ear, nose and throat services at London’s University Hospital Lewisham, told the Associated Press. "If you retain all that pressure, it could do a lot of damage and you could end up like the Michelin Man with air trapped in your body." Aymat didn't work on the case.
The man received tube-feeding and IV antibiotics until the pain and swelling went away. Doctors discharged him after a week – and advised him not to repeat this behavior again. Instead of holding in a sneeze, doctors recommend just sneezing into a tissue. The patient didn't face any complications or see the problem recur after a two-month follow-up.
To avoid a situation like this, the doctors offered several points of caution. "It may lead to numerous complications, such as pseudomediastinum [air trapped in the chest between both lungs], perforation of the tympanic membrane [perforated eardrum], and even rupture of a cerebral aneurysm [ballooning blood vessel in the brain]," they wrote.
And if you're about to sneeze right now, just let it out.