How do I get food out of my sinus cavity?
April 26, 2007 7:18 PM   Subscribe

Food in sinus cavity, need help extricating it! Kind of icky...

Last night while eating spicy ramen I had some noodle go the wrong way... not down, else I'd be choked to death, but up somewheres. Usually this is not a problem, I can snort stuff back down from there, which I did for some of the noodle. I was hoping the rest would work itself out today, but it hasn't. I'm having difficulty breathing out of my right nostril and there is a constant pressure that feels like something is still in there. I've tried sucking up salty water through my nostril; it gets through, but didn't push out any noodle or other stuff. By comparison, my other nostril lets water through just fine.

The main question:
Does anyone have any suggestions as to getting the noodle out?

Also, can foreign objects in the sinuses cause inflammation of the lymph nodes, because I'm now feeling achey in those areas. Can it cause an infection if left in there too long? Is it possible that the irritation of the earlier noodle has just plugged up that part of my nose? I'm worried, as I don't have the health insurance for a doctor to conduct nasal probing/irrigation.
posted by Mister Cheese to Health & Fitness (25 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
You have food? In your head? Other than the cheese you're made of? And you're not going to a doctor? I don't care that you don't have insurance -- dude, you're going to have compost in your face. Find a clinic.
posted by The corpse in the library at 7:36 PM on April 26, 2007

sinucleanse is basically a neti pot for nasal/sinus irrigation with pre-mixed packets of salt/baking powder if you don't want to mess with mixing your own. I bought mine at Walgreens. Then I realized my sinus headaches were really migraines triggered by a need for glasses.

sinucleanse home page

note: google around and read about nasal irrigation first.
posted by craniac at 7:36 PM on April 26, 2007

I think if:

the irritation of the earlier noodle has just plugged up that part of my nose

Then a little nasal decongestant spray or even some decongestant pills should open things right up again. If that doesn't work, then I bet there is still noodle in there.
posted by Eringatang at 7:44 PM on April 26, 2007

You might consider going to a "doc in a box" clinic -- they usually charge a flat rate (~$100) for an office visit, and might be able to help.
posted by davidmsc at 7:50 PM on April 26, 2007

I would definitely spring for a trip to the doctor. If you have food in your sinus cavity then it will surely rot in short order. This will leave you with a nasty infection which will later cost you more money than taking action now.
posted by bkeene12 at 7:51 PM on April 26, 2007

Noodle should turn to mush after repeated exposure to moisture. If it is mush, it will come out if you can irritate your self into a sneeze or create a whole lot of mucus and blow.

IANAD, but my college roommate had an awesome party trick of snorting a strand of spaghetti through his nose and out his mouth. He would actually have one end coming out of each hole and pull it back and forth. The trick was to cook the pasta al dente. If it was too soft it would break off. He did lose some noodles up there and he went on to become a CPA with no ill effects or any trips to the doctor. He could also do it with dental floss.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 7:54 PM on April 26, 2007

It's my Doc in a Box!

Seriously, if there is food in your body that is not where it's supposed to be, go to the doctor and have it removed. Nasal passages, sinus cavity—I had a small crumb stuck at the back of my throat that gave me the worst sore throat I've ever had. Within an hour of the nurse removing it, my throat was all better.
posted by infinitewindow at 7:58 PM on April 26, 2007

Response by poster: I will get me to a doctor if it doesn't mush up and come out in the next couple of days, as JohnnyGunn suggests may occur. Does anyone know of a good way to convey water up the nose?
posted by Mister Cheese at 8:13 PM on April 26, 2007

sinucleanse as above or neti pot.
posted by Medieval Maven at 8:22 PM on April 26, 2007

Response by poster: Ah, whoa, I missed that comment.
posted by Mister Cheese at 8:28 PM on April 26, 2007

This happens to me frequently. I've had spaghetti, tofu, potato, vegetables, and various other foods become lodged in my sinus cavities, generally after starting to cough or sneeze while eating. I have never felt a need to go to a doctor because of it, and I have never become ill because of it.

The only way I've found to to get crap out of there is to blow my nose like there's no tomorrow. I suggest you do it over, and over, and over, with some force, until it comes out. I think that if you keep trying, and keep going back to it, the problem will eventually be solved.

As Margaret Thatcher says, "There is no alternative." Or maybe there is, but industrial scale nose-blowing is what works for me.

On second thought, on rare occasions, I have also had some success alternately doing what I just described, and holding one nostril shut whilst inhaling deeply and quickly through the other.

Good luck.
posted by gaiamark at 9:08 PM on April 26, 2007

You can also do nasal irrigation with just a bulb syringe, some warm salt water, and plenty of tissues.
posted by Clay201 at 9:39 PM on April 26, 2007

add a pinch of baking soda to that salt water and it will not sting.
posted by mecran01 at 9:49 PM on April 26, 2007

It'll hurt, but the easiest thing to do is just snorting water (add salt & baking soda if you like). Failing that, spring for the gadgets, and if all else fails, there's the trip to the hospital.

Let us nose how it goes.
posted by hobbes at 11:14 PM on April 26, 2007

one time, one of my friends said something hilarious while I was munching on a triscuit. blew damn near the whole thing into my sinus cavity. I went to the restroom and blew my nose until no more would come out (like 45 minutes in this case). The next two weeks, I was blowing triscuit particles out my nose. I never really got 'sick' just stuffy because of the food being in a place it wasn't supposed to be.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 2:03 AM on April 27, 2007

Response by poster: Ah, thanks everyone for answering! So it seems that this sort of thing isn't too dangerous, at least anecdotally. I'll keep a nose out for signs of infection, but I guess I'm going to be stuffy for a while and hacking up bits of ramen noodle, huh?

I've been snorting salt water like some kind of salt water junkie. I can feel the noodle migrating a little, but right now I am just too tired to snort any more.
posted by Mister Cheese at 2:56 AM on April 27, 2007

This happens to me now and then. My doctor said not to worry - as soon as it's breaking down a little, it'll be soft enough to work it's way out with some enthusiastic nose-blowing. But not too hard or you might get a nosebleed. Using a saltwater rinse also helps a lot in my case. It might take a couple of days, but it'll sort itself out.
posted by dowcrag at 3:14 AM on April 27, 2007

I use a ball syringe and salt water for nasal irrigation. You can also just cup your hand, pour salt water into it, and snort hard.
posted by desuetude at 6:15 AM on April 27, 2007

This happens to me more than it should (I think I have a very pourous mouth/nose interface). You are right not to worry. Usually I just spend a while sucking down with my mouth--I don't know how to explain it, but doing that thing you do to get snot or post-nasal drip down into your mouth. Be a little careful, though, you don't want to suck so hard you choke once the piece becomes dislodged. Also, nothing hurts more than gummy candy in the sinus.
posted by dame at 7:04 AM on April 27, 2007

I am absolutely fascinated by the number of people who have had food in their sinus cavities. I didn't even know that was possible.
posted by Tacos Are Pretty Great at 7:18 AM on April 27, 2007

Does anyone know of a good way to convey water up the nose?

Neilmed is what I use to flush my sinuses.
posted by terrapin at 7:54 AM on April 27, 2007

You'll probably get better milage out of a real sinus irrigation as opposed to the ol' snort-n'-snort. I had a piece of scotch tape stuck in my sinuses a couple months ago which successfully came out after a few days of irrigations (2 or 3 times a day). You'll be less likely to get an infection if you irrigate well, too, even if the noodle doesn't come out right away.

They have the things you need at drug stores. A hippier drug store will have more options, I think.
posted by wemayfreeze at 11:52 AM on April 27, 2007

I had a piece of scotch tape stuck in my sinuses a couple months ago

I can't even begin to describe how curious I am about this statement.
posted by scody at 12:06 PM on April 27, 2007 [1 favorite]

Tacos Are Pretty Great: "I am absolutely fascinated by the number of people who have had food in their sinus cavities. I didn't even know that was possible."

me neither! disgusting yet fascinating!
posted by loiseau at 12:18 PM on April 27, 2007

Response by poster: Well, I went out and bought one of those sinus relief things because I couldn't breath out of my left nostril from all the mucus, making it difficult to irrigate my nose. So far it seems to be working. I've still got an irritating tickle in the back of my throat, but it's not as bad as it used to be. I also am irrigating regularly with salt water.

I find inhaling water not to be so bothersome anymore. I used to hate getting water up my nose when showering, but today I just let it flow in.

After reading about the health benefits of nasal irrigation, I think maybe I'll give it a try with some better equipment.

As for getting food in sinus cavities: it happens to me when I'm slurping something up that's really spicy. The ramen I had was super spicy. BURNING PAIN.
posted by Mister Cheese at 9:10 PM on April 27, 2007

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