Surprising Side Effects Of Laughing Too Hard

A good laugh can break up a bad day, lighten a dark mood, and can even help strengthen relationships (via Greater Good Magazine). Jokes, funny movies, and walking down memory lane are all great ways to stir up some laughter, and doing it often can offer up many benefits. Laughter has been said to be a stress reliever, immune system booster, and mood lifter — as many say, laughter is the best medicine. But is there any research to back up these claims?

According to Live Science, there is plenty. A 2013 study published in the British Medical Journal examined the research of multiple studies published between 1946 and 2013, and found that laughing has been linked to improved blood-vessel function and decreased stiffness of the arteries. Both of these lead to a reduced risk of heart disease. The researchers also found through these studies that hearty laughter burns calories, reduces anger, decreases depression, and can even increase tolerance for pain. Unfortunately, the researchers did find a bit of a dark side to laughing. 

The not-so-funny effects of laughter

According to CBC News, the Laughter and MIRTH (Methodical Investigation of Risibility, Therapeutic and Harmful) researchers, Robin Ferner from City Hospital Birmingham and J.K. Aronson of the University of Birmingham, report that, "Laughter is not purely beneficial." According to their study, risks of laughter include such problems as cardiac and esophageal rupture, protrusion of abdominal hernias, asthma attacks, jaw dislocation, and stress incontinence. The researchers found that with uncontrollable laughter, there is a point where a person tries to catch their breath, and at this time, some folks accidentally breathed in foreign objects. And additionally, laughing can possibly spread viruses and germs, just like coughing can.

While these effects seem a bit scary, they are rare. The concluding discussion of the study states, "We infer that laughter in any form carries a low risk of harm and may be beneficial." In the case of laughter, the upsides outweigh the risks, so put on that funny movie and have yourself a hearty chuckle.