Did you hear the one about the guy who sneezed so hard he broke a rib? It can happen! Ask Phil Hughes, a pitcher for the New York Yankees who suffered a stress fracture from a giant sneeze. He ended up on the disabled list, and it took him five months to get back on the mound. According to WebMD, a sneeze expels a jet of air at about 100 miles per hour and the quick, sudden motion can aggravate an underlying problem, like back or neck discomfort. You’re also more prone to a sneeze injury if you’ve got a bone-weakening disease, like osteoporosis or cancer.
Sneezes don’t just break ribs. If you suppress a sneeze by pinching your nostrils or closing your mouth, it can rupture your eardrum or damage your middle ear. A woman in Massachusetts sneezed so hard she got whiplash and had to get a neck brace and muscle relaxants for the pain. What about the two huge sneezes that sent Chicago Cubs slugger Sammy Sosa’s back into spasms before a game in 2004. He landed on the disabled list with a sprained ligament in his lower back. Traffic accidents and fatalities have also been caused by sneezing. A Boston man recently lost control of his pickup after a sneezing fit behind the wheel. He wasn’t hurt, but his vehicle ended up in the Charles River.
Even one sneeze can get you into trouble. According to the British Allergy Foundation, if you sneeze while going 70 miles per hour, you’ll travel 100 feet with your eyes shut – almost twice the length of a bowling lane! There are a few rumors about sneezes that aren’t true. Like, you can’t keep your eyes open during a sneeze. Actually, some people can – but it’s very rare. What about the myth that if you could keep your eyes open during a sneeze, your eyes would pop out of your head. No. Your eye sockets are made of bone, they’re not connected to your nasal passages, and there are no muscles back there to tighten when you sneeze and eject your eyeballs. Another myth: Your heart stops when you sneeze. Not true. Doctors say your heart doesn’t even pause when you sneeze.