It's only natural to assume that you'd know if you had something stuck up your nose. And that's even more true if it was stuck up there for a long period of time. Apparently that's not always the case. One woman is sharing her story on TikTok of how she had a bead stuck up her nose for 20 years.
A woman named Hannah (@hannah.lham) opened up about her impressive experience in a TikTok that's now been viewed nearly 8 million times. In it, Hannah explains that she had a weird memory of sticking a bead up her nose as a toddler, but she always thought it had come out at some point.
"When I was, like, three, I remember sticking a bead up my nose and it not coming out," she said. "I didn't tell anyone—I don't know why—and forgot about it."
But Hannah said she developed a sinus infection a few weeks ago, and the bead memory came back.
She said she felt like the right side of her nose was blocked completely which, she assumed, was from a "massive booger." Hannah said the "booger" was "super painful" and "would not come out" So, she used an earwax camera to try to see inside and spotted something blue in there.
"Well, I finally got it out. It was very painful, but a bead—a blue bead that has been in my nose for 20 years—just came out of my nose," she said. "Twenty years I've been living with a bead inside my nose, and I had no idea."
People in the comments shared their own stories of random things stuck in noses. "My 8 yr old daughter had a pretty large bead in her nose for an unknown amount of time…because she did not tell me or her father or anyone," one person wrote. "Oh my god! I stuck a Polly Pocket shoe up my nose and couldn't get it out, I think, and have not seen it since," another said. "I thought, 'Oh, I probably got it out.'"
In follow-up TikToks, Hannah shared video from the ear wax camera and also revealed that she put the bead on a gold bracelet.
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How can something get ‘lost’ up your nose, and what are the signs?
While the bead situation is rare, Neil Bhattacharyya, MD, a comprehensive ear, nose, and throat specialist at Mass Eye and Ear in Boston, tells Health that he regularly fishes things out of people's noses that they didn't realize were there. "Some of the more common things I've taken out in my 25 years of practice are Kleenex and cotton balls," he says. "People will get a stuffy nose, wad up a Kleenex or cotton ball, put it in their nose overnight, and then forget about it."
But many people develop symptoms when something like this happens, Justin McCormick, MD, chief of the division of rhinology and anterior skull base surgery in the Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School's Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery, tells Health. "Most people would have symptoms such as nasal drainage or thick mucus from one side of the nose," he says. "They may also have trouble breathing through the nostril that has the object in it."
A tell-tale sign that something is stuck up there is smelly drainage from one nostril, John Roche, MD, an ENT with Spectrum Health in Michigan, tells Health. "Typically, within a week to 10 days, people will develop drainage," he says. Most of the time, this happens in children, Dr. Roche points out. "The parents take the child to their pediatrician because of a stinky, smelling drainage on one side of the nose, and that usually raises everyone's suspicion that this isn't a cold," he says.
Some people might even struggle with regular sinus infections if the object blocks where the sinuses drain, Dr. McCormick says. "In order for something to go unnoticed for prolonged periods of time, it would need to be lodged in a place where it would not produce any symptoms," he says.
That can mean being lodged in the nose's inferior meatus—one of the larger air spaces in the nose—or in the upper portion of the nose between nasal structures called the middle turbinate and septum," he says.
This can end up being dangerous, Dr. Bhattacharyya says. "The body starts to wall off foreign bodies that linger long enough and that builds a lot of inflammatory reaction," he explains. "That can become an abscess or, in rarer cases, it can start dissolving the bone in the nose."
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What to do if an object gets stuck in your nose
If you or someone you know gets something stuck up a nostril, you can try to get it out yourself as long as it's not causing pain, Kathryn Boling, MD, a primary care physician at Baltimore's Mercy Medical Center, tells Health. "You could try to blow it out by closing off the side of the nose that doesn't have anything in it and forcefully blowing the nose," she suggests.
If that doesn't do the trick and you or your loved one is in pain, Dr. Bhattacharyya says it's a good idea to go to the ER. But, if you otherwise feel OK, Dr. Roche says it's fine to get an appointment to see your physician. "We can usually take it out in the office," he says. "We have a bunch of little instruments to get in there and get it out."
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