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- From “sword throat” to putting a hole in your pharynx, sword swallowing comes with a few risks
Sword swallowing has been practiced in Japan, China, and throughout Europe. They are noted as appearing in Europe in the late Middle Ages around B. The practitioners were condemned by the Catholic Church but were popular as street entertainment despite this. Senaa Samma appeared at St. John's Hall in New York City in a "lovely exhibition of juggling and sword swallowing" according to a report dating from Nov.
Several other sources cite various other performances in - including a short stint with Pepin's Circus. Sword swallowing in the west became a common side-show oddity that exhibited at circuses and vaudeville shows. It was even present at the Chicago World's Fair. While Belly Dance traveled largely through the.
Burlesque side of Vaudeville it was also part of many circus side-shows. Although traditionally sword swallowing has been performed by. Like performers of any age they often. Sword swallowing however, has never been part of the traditional bellydance. It has however been used by bellydancers to add interest to their. It becomes a unique draw for them.
However it is not easy to do. While many dancers balance swords there are only. Those 3 are 6 time World Record holder Natasha. All are currently living in the U. Sword swallowing involves a long process of training your body to suppress it's gag reflex. The swallower usually starts by inserting their finger or other small objects until they can suppress their gag reflex then they begin to practice swallowing small dull practice knives and work up to larger swords.
Most swords are around 25 inches in length. Some of us do it to educate others and demonstrate the possibilities of stretching the mind and overcoming the limitations of the human body. Some of us do it to help preserve a dying ancient art. Others do it because they just crave the attention! It's not so much that I like to swallow swords, it just that I like animals more when they're alive. So how do you do it?
In order to swallow a sword, in medical terms, a sword swallower must: Each step must be done correctly and very precisely - one slightly wrong move and you could puncture any of those organs and kill yourself. More importantly, in psychological terms, it take years of practice - for some sword swallowers from 3 years to as much as 10 years - and a strong mind-over-matter mental attitude - to study and learn the medical physiology, to consciously relax one's mind and body, get past the uncomfortable sensations, focus very carefully on the correct alignment and placement, repress the gag reflex and retch reflex, and make sure you direct the blade precisely where it needs to go without puncturing yourself in order to swallow a single sword - and sometimes several more years to work up to multiple swords and other more complicated and daring feats.
Combining these physical and mental disciplines correctly every time is what makes sword swallowing so extremely difficult and extremely dangerous.
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If you poke yourself in the throat or esophagus while swallowing a sword, it can be quite painful and give you a "sword throat", or worse, a perforated esophagus or punctured stomach resulting in serious medical injuries. In some cases, if the esophageal sphincter is not relaxed and does not open properly while swallowing a sword or multiple swords, it can cause a painful bruising feeling in the center of the chest that can make it difficult to swallow food for several days.
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For the most part, if done properly, sword swallowing usually does not actually hurt terribly painfully, but it can sure feel VERY uncomfortable! It almost always makes your eyes water, and it constantly makes you feel like you're going to gag or get sick.
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Sometimes if the sword is a bit cold, you can feel the cool sensation as the blade travels down your throat. Often when withdrawing the sword, you are left with a taste of stomach acids and metal in your mouth. The act of swallowing a sword is not really a fun or "pleasant" feeling itself, but the audience response usually makes it worth the discomfort. In some cases, depending on the type of metal used in the blade, it can sometimes taste a bit metallic. Lady Sandra Reed commented on the taste of metal and Red Stuart often says that your mouth and throat need to learn to overcome the metallic taste so that your throat does not rebel against the strange taste going down your throat.
However, many of the newer swords nowadays have little to no flavor at all - much like the taste of a fork - except as the sword is being removed, at which time there may be the unpleasant taste of the stomach acids. Can't you hurt yourself?
Have you ever cut yourself? Sword swallowers risk their lives every time they swallow a sword, just for the audience's entertainment pleasure!
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At the very least, sword swallowers often get sore or "sword" throats from bruising trauma or from the introduction of foreign germs and bacteria into abrasions in the esophagus. Oftentimes these sore throats can last several days where it may not be possible to eat solid foods for up to a week or more. As far as getting a more serious cut by a sword, yes, sometimes sword swallowers DO get cut, and in many cases, seriously injured!
First of all, any cuts inside the body are very hard to diagnose, treat, repair and heal. There is always the very serious risk of damage to the throat, vocal cords, esophagus, lungs or stomach, and if it should happen, a lacerated or perforated esophagus or punctured stomach is extremely difficult to treat and repair, and can often become fatal very quickly. Even the slightest nick, perforation, or puncture can lead to the bacterial infection peritonitis which can quickly become quite deadly, sometimes within 24 hours.
Since the blade passes within an eigth of an inch from several internal organs, serious injuries can be caused by puncturing the blade through the wall of the esophagus and into the heart, lungs or other organs or tissue around the esophagus, resulting in severe bleeding, a buildup of fluids around the lungs, heart, and other tissues, pleurisy, swelling, infection, and in many cases, a quick death. Sometimes it may be only a slight nick, sometimes it can be abrasive cuts on the walls of the esophagus after repeated swallowings, while other times it can be a perforation or puncture wound, but in any case, injuries are quite dangerous and the effect can be quite painful and frightening, sometimes leaving the sword swallower unable to eat solid food for several days.
The lining of the esophagus and stomach are also richly lined with a complex series of blood vessels, and if a sword swallower punctures a main blood vessel in the esophagus or stomach, it can cause serious internal bleeding which can quickly become fatal. In some cases, sword swallowers have lacerated blood vessels and nearly bled to death in a matter of minutes as blood shoots out of the mouth.
In other cases, the bleeding may be contained internally within the lower esophagus or stomach and may not be detected until later as a black stool sample. Those sword swallowers who swallow neon tubes also run the additional risk of the neon tube bursting inside of them, leaving them injured from the explosion and bleeding from the cut glass, and a very difficult time trying to remove the broken and jaded neon tube.
Sometimes over time after years of sword swallowing, sword swallowers can develop complications such as dysphagia , a difficulty in swallowing, acid reflux, or esophageal cancer from repeatedly introducing stomach acids to the walls of the esophagus when removing the blades. SSAI keeps a detailed database of sword swallowing injuries based on notifications of injuries by sword swallowers and doctors around the world, and has become known as a repository for information on sword swallowing injuries. SSAI reports that there are on average from four to seven serious sword swallowing injuries requiring hospitalization each year , and dozens of other injuries that go unreported.
Many times sword swallowers simply decide to give up swallowing swords after serious or even minor injuries. Read the British Medical Journal report " Sword Swallowing and its side effects ", or other medical reports and more information on sword swallowing injuries and complications.
From “sword throat” to putting a hole in your pharynx, sword swallowing comes with a few risks
That all depends on the injury They can't just reach in and slap a Bandaid on it! In some cases, the doctor may need to open up the patient in order to repair the injury or stop fluids from filling and contaminating the thoraxic chamber around the heart, give blood transfusions, antibiotics to prevent infection, etc. In cases like this, it helps to have your SSAI membership ID card with your emergency contact information, blood type and other information handy whenever performing in case of emergency.
For minor scrapes in the back of the throat and upper esophagus causing sore throats, many sword swallowers drink ice water to help stop the bleeding, take antibiotics and heavy doses of healing vitamins such as vitamin C, A and E, and some sword swallowers drink Aloe Vera juice from places such as Fruit of the Earth to help heal the esophagus quicker.
To help relieve the pain of the "sword throat", many sword swallowers gargle with hot saltwater, or take cough drops such as Fisherman's Friend or Hall's Mentholyptus , or Chloraseptic throat lozenges. Some over-the-counter or prescription products designed to treat heartburn, acid reflux, dysphagia and other upper GI issues such as Nexium , Prevacid , Prilosec , or Zantac may help in healing the esophagus more quickly.
If you are a product manufacturer who is interested in having us test or endorse your products in exchange for advertising commercials or corporate sponsorship, please contact us. Some sword swallowing injuries may cause so much severe pain that it may be difficult to eat solid food or swallow for several days or weeks. Below is a list of suggestions compiled from a recent survey of sword swallowers of things that sword swallowers have taken after minor sword swallowing injuries: Here are some items that doctors have recommended to AVOID ingesting after a sword swallowing injury: Aspirin Ibuprofen Orange juice, grape fruit, lemon, lime or other citrus juices Tomato products such as tomato juice, salsa, ketchup, spaghetti sauce Raw eggplant Chocolate Coffee or other caffeine drinks Alcohol Suggestions from sword swallowers for healing and recuperating after the injury: Ginger tea to help with occasional acid reflux Peanut butter to stretch the esophagus Aloe gel to promote strength and healing Bread seems to soothe injuries in the stomach Ice cream to soothe the throat after continuous performances Pepto Bismal to coat and soothe the stomach If you are a sword swallower, please complete the Sword Swallower Survey and let your fellow sword swallowers and the medical community know what treatment you or your doctor recommend to improve recovery after an injury.
Again, sword swallowing is extremely dangerous and numerous people have died attempting it! Do NOT attempt sword swallowing unless you are under the direct tutelage of a seasoned professional sword swallower! We know of at least 29 deaths over the past years from sword swallowing injuries based on medical reports, death certificates, obituaries and other information.
There are undoubtedly more that have gone unrecorded over the past years. Just a few of the more unusual sword swallowing deaths from sword swallowing injuries: Signor Wandana - died on May 9, after cutting himself internally Harry Parsons - died December 20, after fatally injured himself while performing in Cleveland, Ohio, Patrick Mulraney - died June 29, after attempting to swallow a violin bow Albert J.
Pierce - died May 30, when the sword went too deep and cut the lining of his stomach Maude D'Lean - died in when the sword snagged inside her from a nick on the blade while performing for the King of England Bob Roberts - died June 5, when his trick of swallowing a shotgun barrel backfired Prince Neon - died July 14, , a week after his injury when his neon tube exploded inside him Delno Fritz - died from pneumonia which developed as a result of a screw that came loose and lodged in his lung while testing a bronchialscope for doctors in Pennsylvania in the late s Alexander Dourof - died January 12, in London when his sword pierced his heart Rosemary Puente - died February 27, died at the age of 25 from a quarter-inch puncture that got infected and killed her within two days Francis Doran - died in from complications of his neon sword bursting inside him View the entire list of deaths on the Sword Swallower's Hall of Fame.
He who lives by the sword, dies by the sword" -- Matthew Is this really true? There is a myth that has been circulating around the Internet about a sword swallower who supposedly swallowed a closed umbrella that accidentally opened inside him, killing him. Here are a few variations, all unsubstantiated: This urban legend was later embellished and perpetuated in the Spike TV show Ways to Die , which premiered on February 8, , and which shows fictional clips of unusual deaths.
In this episode entitled "Dumbrella", a fictional sword-swallower named "Boris" was challenged to swallow an umbrella, puncturing his esophagus and killing him. The incident is said to have taken place at a "Woods Carnival" in Barnegot NJ in , although there are no records of this actually happening , or of a sword swallower named "Boris" or a carnival named "Woods Carnival". The real sword swallower in this episode is George the Giant MacArthur who played the part of "Boris" the fictional sword swallower. There is no known evidence names, dates, photos of any sword swallowers who have ever been able to swallow an actual umbrella.
This is mostly due to the fact that the diameter of an umbrella shaft and hub attachment that attaches to the spokes are much larger than the opening to the human epiglottis, making it virtually impossible to actually swallow an umbrella, much less open it. The length of the average human esophagus is approximately centimeters inches in length. Even if a sword swallower were able to manage to swallow the hub of an umbrella, it would be virtually impossible to get all of the umbrella spokes and material into the esophagus deep enough to get past the epiglottis unless the umbrella was extremely small with spokes less than 25 centimeters 9 inches in length.
Even if it were possible to swallow an umbrella shaft, hub, and spokes past the epiglottis, even if the umbrella were opened, there would not be enough force to open the umbrella spokes against the pressure of the esophageal muscles which would be pressing tightly against the umbrella, holding it closed. There are a limited number of sword swallowers around the world, and we are all very aware of each other. However, there are no known sword swallowers in Canada, or Bonn or Berlin Germany who match this description in our database of known sword swallowers. There are no known sword swallowers named "Boris".
There are also no known carnivals with sword swallowers that have performed in Barnegat Township, NJ under the name "Woods Carnival". Of course there are! That's precisely why most of us do it Many sword swallowers make it a point to clean their blades with high percentage alcohol or Listerine before and after each performance. Others use only saliva and learn to develop a tolerance and immunity to germs. Many of us sword swallowers prefer our swords "au natural". We don't use anything on our swords or on our throats.
Unless our throats are extremely dry, the saliva in the throat is usually lubricant enough to help the sword slide down. Most sword swallowers, however, prefer to lick their swords with a little saliva to libricate them so they are not quite so dry before they swallow them. Other sword swallowers use cooking oil, olive oil, or Japanese Kurobara Camellia oil to help the sword slide down. Some of us also use oils on our blades after the performance to help keep our blades lubricated and to protect them from pitting and rusting. In the beginning many sword swallowers do hold their breath while learning to repress the gag reflex until they learn to relax and become more proficient at sword swallowing.
However, after relaxing, many sword swallowers are able to relax and breathe while swallowing a sword. Is there any correlation between having ones' tonsils removed and sword swallowing? When swallowing a sword, the sword goes behind the epiglottis, past the hyoid bone, down the esophagus, and behind the larynx and Adam's apple, so the sword does not actually touch the Adam's apple itself.
But with the head tilted back, the pressure of the sword blade in the esophagus causes some slight displacement in the throat, which can in turn displace the Adam's apple, causing the Adam's apple to be temporarily distended and appear to protrude slightly more while the sword is down the throat. Additionally, when sword swallowers swallow wavy Kriss or flamberge blades, you can see the Adam's apple wobble back and forth as the sword is inserted and withdrawn which sword swallower Alex Linton used to call the "Shimmy-Shawabble".
But in general, no, sword swallowing does not harm or enlarge one's Adam's apple. Do you really bite down on the blade with your teeth? Does your throat actually go through the motions of 'swallowing' the blade? Other sword swallowers sometimes bite down slightly upon removal of the blade for showmanship in order to create a metallic "schwing" sound while removing the blade for theatrical effect. However, in general, it is not necessary to bite down on or "chew" the blade, as in some cases, it could chip the teeth. As for actual 'swallowing' the blade, the act of swallowing is a complex process called peristalysis that involves using some 50 pairs of muscles in the throat.
Most sword swallowers do not actually 'swallow' the sword, but instead relax the throat enough to allow the blade to slide down the esophagus, although some sword swallowers do intentionally cause the blade to move down their throats by using their throat muscles in the peristalysis act of swallowing. From one of the accounts I read about a sword swallower, he claims to 'dislocate' his collarbones and other joints to swallow the sword. I was wondering if you do the same thing?
Are you double jointed? If so, do you suffer pain in your other joints? There is one sword swallower in Australia known as Chayne the Space Cowboy who claims to have a condition that allows him to dislocate his joints, but in general, it is not necessary to do so in order to swallow a sword, and as far as is known, no other sword swallowers do it.
How do you know when you're as far as you can go? The length of the average human esophagus ranges from about cm, and from 36 to 44 cm to the bottom of the stomach, averaging around 40 cm in length. Most sword swallowers can swallow swords from about 16" to 22" about 40 to 60 cm in length, but the average length of swords swallowed ranges from 19 to 22 inches, often with a few inches of blade extending out of the mouth. We can usually tell the blade is in as far as possible because the sword won't go any further once it hits the bottom of the stomach. At that point, when the blade stops, we know we are at the bottom of the stomach, and it feels uncomfortable to push the blade any further which is NOT recommended!
Sometimes after eating a full meal, the stomach can be somewhat stretched, so with a full stomach, the blade can sometimes sit a little deeper. An old sword swallower's trick is to drink several glasses of water before performing in order to make the stomach heavier and sink lower, thereby allowing the sword swallower to swallow slightly longer blades. The unofficial world's record for longest blade length was set by George the Giant MacArthur at 33 inches long over 83 cm , but George is said to be about 7' 2" tall!
Another factor is that when you have an object in your mouth and pressing on your tongue such as a blade, your mouth naturally begins to salivate. With your head turned upwards and your epiglottis held open by the blade, there is the feeling that the saliva is going to run down your throat and into your lungs, creating the urge to swallow or cough.
Some veteran sword swallowers are able to repress the gag reflex a little longer, while others only keep a blade in for a few seconds, long enough to spin around or bow to the audience, before we are ready to withdraw the blade before gagging or choking on our saliva.
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Putting things into your lungs is a good way to accelerate your death - it is probably possible, but would result in serious problems and death! Here are a few of the various sword types that sword swallowers have been known to swallow: Sword swallowing is extremely dangerous, we don't know you, and liability is such a huge issue in our litigious society these days. Please understand that this is one of the most common and annoying questions we get asked all the time.