Thursday, May 03, 2007

A Complication of Forceful Nose-Blowing

I've been struggling with the remains of a cold and the never-ending drainage from the ethmoid sinus that sits right behind my left eye. So I was not happy when I was flipping through The American Journal of Medicine today and the above title caught my eye.

You're probably familiar with the medical myth that your eyes may get stuck if you cross them. In the realm of the possible, small boys could put their eyes out if playing with BB guns, and it is possible to stick a pencil through your posterior pharynx if you run through the house with the pencil in your mouth and fall flat on your face. But is it possible to blow your brains out by blowing your nose?

Apparently yes, and there's a scary MRI image in the AJM to prove it. Some old guy who had the habit of honking heartily into his hanky felt a 'pop' after one particularly forceful blow and immediately experienced pain above his left eye. The pain worsened over 4 days, he then developed a fever and lapsed into a coma.

Apparently his nose-blowing ruptured the membranes covering his brain and forced air plus bacteria into the space around his brain. After big time antibiotics, he improved, woke up, and presumably now blows gently and genteely.

And so will I!


Elaine said...

I'll have to remember this when I am able to blow my nose again. Right now allergies are in full swing and I'm so stuffed up and miserable with a pounding headache. Waiting the allegra-D to kick in. Welcome spring :-)

Femail doc said...

Spring pollen things must be bad in Michigan too! This is worst I've seen in Denver; I was so miserable myself I didn't even identify the cold as separate from allergies for days. Our allergy samples are jumping off the shelves! Thank heavens for Allegra-D.


seventeen_at_heart said...

I blow gently, but my husband sounds like a train coming in to the my dad used to when he blew also :/