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Sneezing can be hazardous to your health!

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A sneeze is a protective reflex that propels air (and frequently mucus) at about 650 mph and may increase pressure to 176 mmHg.  It can be like a time-bomb in your nose.   Many people believe that a sneeze is just a nuisance.  I beg to differ.  Sneezing is a major symptom of allergic rhinitis (hay fever) as well as irritant rhinitis and can have profound consequences on quality of life.

Here is a list of headlines where a sneeze is more than a nuisance.

  • “Pennsylvania Truck Driver Says Sneeze Caused Vehicle Crash; Crews Soak Up Hundreds of Gallons of Spilled Corn Syrup.”  In December 2013, a 53 year-old truck driver, passed out after sneezing while driving on I-70 near Washington, PA.
  • “Pickup driver sneezes, and then plows into Florida man, killing him instantly.”  A man, who was pushing a broken down car, was killed when another man driving a truck sneezed, swerved into the man and killed him.
  • In San Leandro, CA, a sneezing fit was to blame after a dump truck driver crashed into nearly a dozen cars and trucks at a used auto dealer early Thursday, according to the California Highway Patrol. November 2012.
  • In Dayton, OH, a man who had to be extricated from his truck told police he sneezed just before he drove through an intersection, veered across two lanes, clipped a vehicle, jumped a curb and crashed in a wooded area off East Monument Avenue. Police believe he may have suffered some kind of medical emergency.  March 2013.
  • “Jersey Truck Driver Sneezes, Loses Control, Slams into Home.” May 2013.

Sneezing has not only been linked to auto accidents, but other consequences of a violent sneeze may include:

  • Slipped a disk; a 28 year old female suffered a herniated disk in her back after a violent sneeze in the shower.  This occurs due to a whip lash effect.
  • A profound sneeze can cause your teeth to slam together resulting in broken teeth, or biting your cheek or tongue.
  • Rarely, other severe outcomes have occurred including ruptured ear drums, fractured ribs, suffered acute angle closure glaucoma, and even experienced severe symptoms such as a heart attack, stroke (cerebrovascular accident), or aortic dissection from increased thoracic pressure.  It is not uncommon to have bladder (urinary incontinence) or even bowel accidents after very forceful sneezing.

At Family Allergy & Asthma Care of Montana, we take sneezing seriously.  Don’t wait for something damaging to happen.  Let us help find the cause of your sneezing.

This information is solely for informational purposes and not intended as a substitute for consultation with a medical professional.

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