Straining Can Kill You – It Killed Elvis

Straining when holding your breath, can be fatal. It killed Elvis and it can kill you.Lifting weights, straining on the toilet, even blowing up balloons can have dire consequences.

Elvis died blowing up balloons.

The King is gone but not forgotten but what killed him has been. He died blowing up balloons!

Ever had blocked ears, say when flying? What did you do? You can suck candy and that can help but the quick method is to hold your nose, close your mouth and blow. This is called the Valsalva technique. It works. Ask any diver who has probably used this method hundreds of times to relieve the pressure in his ears. But did you know it can kill you?

I don’t think anyone would believe Elvis was trying to clear his ears when he died but there are other ways to perform the Valsalva manoeuvre. Here are a few:

  • Blowing up balloons
  • Straining on the toilet
  • Lifting heavy weights
  • Coughing
  • Vomiting
  • Playing the trumpet or saxophone
  • Getting really mad
  • Giving birth
  • Hanging on to that last bit of smoke if you are using marijuana

Elvis arguably had a fair amount of brown stuff going on his life but it was the simple act of trying to remove the stuff from his body that killed him, although he did vomit too. Elvis died on the can no doubt using the same technique as blowing up balloons. It was well documented he was on medication to help him go in this department of his extraordinary life.

The Valsalva manoeuvre increases blood pressure, and lowers for a time the amount of blood returning to the heart. Ever wondered why you get dizzy blowing up balloons?

Elvis had some health issues leading up to his premature demise. It was his cardiac arrhythmia that made him prone to a problem with straining and holding his breath. Anyone with heart disease is at risk. Anyone with a latent rupturing aneurysm should be wary, and who knows if that might be you!

Weightlifters regularly perform the Valsalva technique. Ever tried lifting 200 pounds and not hold your breath! They try to breathe normally quickly after the lift. This group was studied and found to have an increased risk of developing glaucoma. The rise in pressure within the eyeball as a result of continued breath holding was identified as the root of the risk.

There are cases reported of the alveolar rupture with inadvertent use of the Valsalva technique. The alveoli are the tiny sacs in your lungs where the oxygen is brought into contact with blood to keep you alive. The rupture can be life threatening as you can develop a pneumothorax or collapsed lung, pneumopericardium, air around the heart, or pneumomediastinum, air in your chest outside of the lungs. Each has the capacity to kill you or at least ruin a good night out. And these medical terms are big words. Big word things are frightening in themselves!

So the bottom line, whoops we are back to bottoms again, don’t strain on the can and if you need some help, at least breathe. Don’t walk around in fear but life is about risk minimization. If you are young and care free remain so but as you get older and reduce your risks and breathe, breathe, breathe.

If Elvis had of had a Wooden Heart and no constipation, he might still be here.

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  1. This is stupid!!! When blowing up balloons you use your diaphragm to fill the balloons. The conditions you describe is if you are forcing air into your head as in holding your nose. Blowing a balloon is more like blowing out a candle.

  2. When straining on the toilet you are not blowing air up your nose! Well I would not think so? It is strainin and not breathing that is the issue. As a technique, it can be used to clear yolur airways / ears.
    Thank you for your comment as it allowed an explanation.

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