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When vuvuzelas attack

South African football fans blow vuvuzela horns for the opening ceremony of the FIFA World Cup 2010,
South African football fans blow vuvuzela horns for the opening ceremony of the FIFA World Cup 2010,Ben Stansall / AFP

Randy Dotinga writes: Those ear-piercing vuvuzelasat the World Cup matches are hazardous to more than your hearing – or sanity. Last week, a South African woman burst her windpipe while blowing one of the 3-foot noisemaking horns during a street party in Cape Town. Yvonne Mayer, a 29-year-old insurance saleswoman, was unable to speak or eat for two days, but is now on the mend. While this may be the first documented case of a serious vuvuzela injury, frequent tooters have already reported grossly swollen “vuvuzela lips.” Tooting your own horn -- or clarinet or saxophone – can turn dangerous when pressure builds in your head from blowing too hard. That's what happened to one unfortunate Ohio boy. Last year, the New England Journal of Medicine told the cautionary tale of a 13-year-old boy who tooted his tuba so hard he busted a salivary gland. As if the life of a 13-year-old tuba player wasn’t already hard enough. Trombone, trumpet and harmonica players can develop the same condition. Still, matters can get even worse for the brass section. Powerful tooting can cause retinas to bleed. Researchers are studying trombone and trumpet players to see if they're more prone to develop glaucoma, which is caused by pressure in the eye, says Dr. Cathi Fontenot, medical director of the New Orleans Musicians Clinic. Fontenot once even saw a jazz trumpeter who had ruptured a muscle in his cheek. "He could still play his instrument, but it looked awful funny because one cheek went out farther than the other one did," she says. Worried your body will get out of tune while you try to keep in rhythm? If you play an instrument, remember this simple rule: "If anything that you normally do causes pain, that means you should stop doing what you're doing," says Dr. David Myssiorek, an ear, nose and throat doctor at New York University Langone Medical Center who's treated musician injuries. But if you play a vuvuzela, well, Myssiorek is a bit more concerned about his health than yours. "Don’t bring them to Yankee Stadium," he pleads. "I'd rather watch the games without losing my hearing." Are vuvuzelas driving you crazy? Tell us in the comments. To read more Body Odd posts, click here. You can also find us on Twitter and on Facebook.