Lots of professions are dangerous. Firefighting is certainly risky. Piloting can be perilous under particular circumstances. Mining is alarmingly hazardous. One thing those all have in common, though, is that they're vital occupations. Sword swallowing? Yeah, not so much.
Nonetheless, some people practice sword swallowing as a profession. So researchers have, of course, studied these performers to see what medical complications they run into and why. Very unsurprisingly, sore throats and chest pains are often issues, especially when sword swallowers are learning the trade or if they're booking lots of gigs. Well, that's to be expected.
But sometimes a trick goes awry. Sword swallowers can puncture their esophagus (saw that one coming) although they usually end up making pretty good patients. Gastrointestinal bleeding is another grievance that happens in the sword swallowing community (which is why most people think of swords as for external use only) but usually they can be patched up [source: Witcombe].
So what's the why in these scenarios? Sword swallowers are more prone to serious injury when they aren't paying enough attention. Yup – if you aren't focused on the fact that you're shoving a long sharp object down your throat, you may have a problem. Other red flags: trying a new sword or trying to swallow multiple swords at once.