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Can a Hickey Kill You?

Dying from a hickey sounds like an urban legend, right up there with succumbing to a mixture of pop rocks and soda. However, a news report of a teen in Mexico dying of a stroke after his girlfriend gave him a hickey amped up worry that a love bite could actually be deadly. UsNews researched the likelihood of suffering a hickey related death by interviewing an emergency room doctor and found, much to every middle school kid’s joy, that a hickey probably can’t kill you.

For a hickey to kill you, there would have to be some serious sucking involved. And probably an existing disorder that affects connective tissue, and even then it is probably unlikely. A deadly hickey is likely the plot of a medical show wherein a patient didn’t know about having the disorder or had an existing injury to the carotid artery. The injury could then be exacerbated by direct pressure, such as from a hickey (or particularly harsh cough or sneeze or even chiropractic maneuver) for a prolonged period that could then tear or injure the blood vessel, eventually creating a blood clot that could then travel to the brain and cause a stroke.

The boy in Mexico isn’t the first person to have suffered severe consequences after a makeout session. There have been reports of a woman in New Zealand, as well as a woman from the Netherlands having minor strokes after getting a hickey. Both of those women survived their injuries.

In all cases, the symptoms were similar: weakness on one side of the body, which is a common symptom of stroke. All the victims were relatively young, ranging from the teenage boy to a 44-year old woman. Although stroke is often associated with the elderly, it can affect younger people too. Those that are at highest risk of stroke are heavy smokers and drinkers.

[Image via Getty]

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