Few things feel more urgent than a sneeze coming up the ol' sneeze tube. No matter how many times you've been through it, it's always a situation. It's embarrassing, often uncomfortable, and apparently a good opportunity to rupture your throat.
This is actually a thing that can happen -- and it recently did to one unlucky 34-year-old man, according to a report in BMJ Case Reports. The "previously fit and well" man tried to pinch his nose and close his mouth to suppress a sneeze, as many do, and experienced a pop in his neck. He experienced serious swelling and couldn't speak or swallow, so he made his way to the emergency room.
He discovered that there'd been so much force in the sneeze that his pharynx ruptured and air bubbles developed in his neck. He was then put on a feeding tube, given antibiotics, and discharged two weeks later. At his two-month checkup, he was given the all-clear.
As you've probably noticed in your own life, this is extremely rare. Still, the authors of the report warn against pinching your nose to hold back a sneeze -- and against holding back sneezes in general. Ruptured eardrums and pulled back muscles aren't unheard of, and this is something everyone does, so stop being so darn bashful.
As to what you should do when you have to sneeze, otolaryngologist Dale Tylor had this to say to Digg: “We recommend that if you feel like you have to sneeze DON’T plug the nose and instead open the mouth and try to get the sneeze to come out as a cough."
A little embarrassment is better than a busted throat.
h/t The Verge