Although laughter mainly improves health, too much giggling can trigger serious medical issues and be a symptom of an impending health disaster with experts naming four specific ways it can be fatal
Laughter is often linked by medics to improvements in the immune system, a reduced likelihood of heart attacks and less anxiety – but there are four ways it can also prove deadly.
Although having a giggle can certainly lead to better health, experts say there are cases of the best medicine quickly turning to the worst poison. Professor Robin E. Ferner from the University of Birmingham reckons there is a certain amount of laughter that can have ‘awful’ consequences.
He told media: “We don’t have the foggiest idea how much chuckling is safe. There’s presumably a U-molded bend: laughter is great for you, however, enormous amounts are awful, maybe… We often say that everything in life that gives you pleasure usually has effects which are detrimental as well.”
Here are the four ways that experts say laughter can turn fatal:
Breathing difficulties from asthma can be intensified by heavy laughter as chuckling changes the way your airwaves take in oxygen. This can be problematic for someone without an inhaler and asthma attacks have been known to cause deaths in the past.
“When you’re feeling emotional, you might start to take fast and deep breaths. This is called hyperventilating and it can make your airways narrow, causing asthma symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, breathlessness, or a tight chest,” charity Asthma and Lung UK writes on its website.
Another way laughter can lead to death is through suffocation. If laughter is so intense that it interferes with normal inhaling and exhaling it can lead to a lack of oxygen.
But if you’re healthy, experts say this is a very unlikely way to die. Dr Megan Kamath, a cardiologist at the University of California, Los Angeles, US told Live Science: “While there have been reported cases of death from laughter due to asphyxiation or cardiac arrest, it remains an overall unlikely cause of death for healthy individuals.”
Ruptured brain aneurysm
A bulge in a weakened blood vessel, known as a brain aneurysm, isn’t an uncommon condition. Some experts reckon up to one in 20 people may have the health problem.
Brain aneurysms are mainly symptomless until they burst, at which point they can turn deadly serious – and worryingly, intense laughter can provide that final trigger.
The final way that medics say laughter is linked with health issues is through a gelastic seizure. This type of laughter is often uncontrollable and not associated with happiness.
It’s a condition mainly caused by a small tumour in the hypothalamus, which medics say consistent and out-of-control laughter can be a symptom of.