John Oram died from brain trauma after a violent sneeze.

For most people, sneezing is harmless. But a number of recent events have revealed just how dangerous—and even deadly—this seemingly innocuous reflex can be.

One minute Victoria Kenny was perfectly fine at home in West Sussex, England, watching EastEnders on TV, and the next she was in agony and unable to stand or even move her arms and legs. In between, all she did was sneeze. But that massive sneeze ruptured a disc in Kenny’s back, which caused two vertebrae to pinch her sciatic nerve, paralyzing her.

79-year-old John Oram sneezed so severely that his brain rattled against his skull, causing minor head trauma. Unfortunately, Oram also had diabetes and heart troubles, and was on a medication that made him more prone to bleeding. Oram suffered a brain hemorrhage, and died two days later,

Suppressing a sneeze can be just as hazardous. Holding a sneeze in also puts us at risk for a “CSF leak,” or cerebral spinal fluid leak—brain fluid coming out the nose.

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