DENVER (KDVR) — On average we sneeze three times a day. Maybe you’ve thought to yourself: is it ok to hold in my sneeze?

“Sneezing is a natural reflects response of the body,” said Dr. Jaya Kumar, CMO of Swedish Medical Center.

It’s pretty simple. Sneezing is what we do to clear out our nose
Dr. Kumar explains that when your nose is tickled by dust or pollen your body wants to get it out.

“If there is an irritant, infection or inflammation in your nose your body will try to get rid of it,” said Dr. Kumar.

A sneeze is actually our first defense against letting bacteria inside

So the age old question is should we hold in our sneeze or should we let it out? Is it harmful to hold it in?

“The philosophy or physiology behind a sneeze is when your brain triggers a sneeze the pressure in your chest builds up really high and the air under pressure is released through your nostrils at a really high speed like 100 mph so if you try to contain this pressure in your lungs and chest it can have serious adverse consequences,” said Dr. Kumar.

Some of those potential risks: lung rupture, fracture of ribs, throat damage.

“These are really rare but known to happen. Let it out if you can safely with your elbow as your barrier or tissue,” said Dr. Kumar.

She also says if you sneeze very frequently maybe see a doctor to see why that’s the case.