Broken iPhone screen, picked nose, and glass dust.
September 19, 2013 8:57 AM   Subscribe

I broke my iPhone's screen, continued to use it, and then picked my nose without thinking. I feel like there might have been some glass particles on my finger. Did I breathe in glass dust? Is there any risk of developing silicosis or other health problems?

My nostril kind of felt weird for a bit and I feel like I had a tiny bit of a sore throat, but I've also had a cold lately. Yes, I'm a hypochondriac.
posted by suburbs to Health & Fitness (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
don't worry about this, you're fine.

Seriously. Even if there WERE minuscule particles of glass on your finger (there probably weren't), the actual JOB of your nose and nasal passage is to protect you from stuff like that. Which, even if you DID breathe it in (which you didn't) is very unlikely to be hazardous.
posted by sarahnicolesays at 9:08 AM on September 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


No, not at all. People who get silicosis work in factories for years breathing in particulate matter without a mask. You are 100% fine.
posted by dawkins_7 at 9:09 AM on September 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


You are fine.
When you break the iphone screen (by dropping it, I assume), you shatter it but do not pulverize it. So there are little slivers maybe, but not dust. And you would have noticed slivers on your fingertips, which are very sensitive.
The worst that you could have done is given yourself a teeny cut in your nostril before your nose hairs blocked a glass shard on its way up. They are a very good filter.
posted by rmless at 9:09 AM on September 19, 2013


Best answer: Did I breathe in glass dust?

No.

Is there any risk of developing silicosis or other health problems?

No.

The amount of glass dust created in a cracked phone screen is quite small. The amount left on it after using it for a while, being that using it means continually wiping it off, is much smaller than that. The amount that might be on your finger after swiping it across one small part of the crack in the screen is once again much smaller than that, and the amount that would rub off and onto your nose again much smaller than that. Then the amount that made it from your nose to your lungs is once again much smaller.

You are not going to get a disease that people who spends all day every day in mines get because of this. You are about as likely to get lung cancer from wearing a sock that was in the laundry with a shirt that someone wore into a smokey bar.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 9:09 AM on September 19, 2013 [5 favorites]


I'm pretty sure there's more glass dust in the air around you right now that you managed to snort from your finger.
posted by pipeski at 9:10 AM on September 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Best answer: I'm the sort of person who frets about broken glass, painstakingly picking bits up, using tape to get any small splinters, shining a torch to find any unnoticed bits.

But in this case, it sounds like you're worrying far too much. For one thing, the iPhone screen must be holding together well if you're using it, rather than continuously shedding tiny particles. I know several people who've had badly fractured screens for years without cutting themselves etc

And even if one or two particles somehow worked their way onto your finger, they'd then have to stay on long enough for you to pick your nose, but be loose enough to come off, then find a secure spot within your nose, then get inhaled rather than expelled, then somehow cause some kind of problem (people with conditions like silicosis have typically inhaled a very large number of small particles, several orders of magnitude beyond what's feasible here).

Look at it statistically and the probabilities multiply until the chance is virtually zero. You're safe.
posted by malevolent at 9:19 AM on September 19, 2013


Based on some of your previous questions, I'd be more worried about your anxiety surrounding similar issues. Have you talked with your doctor or therapist about this?
posted by chiababe at 9:33 AM on September 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


Your issue is anxiety, not glass particles in your boogers. If you are not currently bleeding from your nose, there is zero chance anything will come of this.
posted by desjardins at 9:35 AM on September 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


Response by poster: Thank you all, I feel a lot better about this now. I appreciate the gut-check.
chiababe → "Based on some of your previous questions, I'd be more worried about your anxiety surrounding similar issues. Have you talked with your doctor or therapist about this?"
Sigh, I haven't talked to anyone about it, but I agree that it is a serious problem. I know that this is a problem, but I'm not sure how to solve it on my own. I'd talk to a therapist or doctor about it, but I don't have health insurance at the moment since I'm between jobs. But yes, I am fretting about health stuff all the time. I'd prefer not to be, but it's really hard for me to let it go.

To clarify why: Something I think many can agree with is that health is incredibly important (perhaps the most important thing you have control over). So spending a little bit of time making sure that everything is as perfect as it can be is time well spent, and fixing something important is worth the worry that went into it.

Not taking the hour to figure out what's going on and surfing the web instead is not a good investment to make in yourself. That's why I can't seem to let go of this hypochondria.

("Was that second-long ache in my head a problem?" "Why am I getting cramps all of a sudden?" etc.)
posted by suburbs at 10:16 AM on September 19, 2013


Something I think many can agree with is that health is incredibly important (perhaps the most important thing you have control over). So spending a little bit of time making sure that everything is as perfect as it can be is time well spent, and fixing something important is worth the worry that went into it.

Not taking the hour to figure out what's going on and surfing the web instead is not a good investment to make in yourself. That's why I can't seem to let go of this hypochondria.


See, that's the thing about irrational urges: Very few people who have them believe they're entirely irrational. Howard Hughes would have said that time spent handling everything with Kleenex is time well spent because you don't want germs or microbes or whatever he was afraid of. And he'd have been wrong about that.

I'm not saying you're on a Howard Hughes level yet, but it's probably going to get to that point sooner or later if you don't do something about it. I would really strongly advise talking to a therapist as soon as you have health insurance.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 12:31 PM on September 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


suburbs - The one problem with your reasoning (taking the hour to figure out what's going on is worth it) is that (I'm presuming) you're not a medical professional. My doctor friends encourage me NOT to surf the web to self-diagnose because I lack the medical training. And it's true. Every sniffle or cough or ache or pain, when researched, can lead to terminal cancer as a conclusion! ;) Spending an hour (or more) poking around the web to see what you might possibly have is going to do less for your actual potential condition and less for your state of mind than seeing a doctor or a therapist.

Given your lack of health insurance at the moment, I would recommend trying hard not to search about symptoms and such online. Instead, try closing your eyes and taking several deep breaths (in through the nose, out through the mouth) whenever you start to be concerned about potential ailments. It's not therapy, but deep breathing does wonders for calming yourself. If your underlying issue truly is anxiety of some kind, this may be helpful.

Good luck to you. :)
posted by juliebug at 12:40 PM on September 19, 2013


The thing is, even if those particles did result in silicosis 20 years down the line, so what? There is nothing you can do with that information, and no way to uncancerize yourself once the glass bits are in your lungs.

Better to just not know!
posted by Meatbomb at 2:28 AM on September 20, 2013


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