Monday, December 19, 2011


The Best Time I Almost Destroyed My Sinuses (?)

It was 9 p.m. — I know because I’d just taken my nightly pills — when the burning in my throat started. This wasn’t like a sore throat you get during a cold. It was like someone took a knife, dipped the knife in acid, and then ran the acid-knife down my esophagus. I started crying, half in pain, half in panic, and half because the burning was wreaking havoc on my sinuses — yes, these were 150% tears.

While I debated going to the ER, I gulped down a few glasses of ice water and a sleeve of off-brand Ritz crackers, then, obviously, checked Twitter to make sure that, in the event my throat closed up and killed me, my final tweet wouldn’t be a joke about Rule 34 or something. (Turns out it would have been a retweet about the four worst spiders of 2011, which I think is acceptable by anyone’s standards.)  

The water and crackers seemed to help somewhat, but my sinuses seemed to be trying to crawl out of my face. I had to blow my nose every couple minutes, and on the thirtieth nose-blow or so, the burning migrated from my throat to my right nostril. I know Googling medical symptoms is like boarding a rocket ship to Planet Crazytime, but I tried anyway, continuing to blow my nose every so often. Google only confirmed that my body had begun to exist in some sort of alternate reality — I couldn’t find information about anything remotely close to what I was experiencing.

Then I blew my nose yet again, and oh, no big deal, but a half-dissolved pill came out. Apparently, one of my nightly pills had gone down just fine, but the other I had somehow swallowed upward into my sinuses, where it had been steadily burning away at my flesh as it worked its way through my nasal passages and out into a tissue.

Let me emphasize that this is a pill I take every single night, and have for six years. That’s over 2,000 times I’ve swallowed this pill — rehearsals from which it seems I gleaned nothing. Let me also emphasize that I took the pill with water, as always. I never ever dry-swallow pills because I’m terrified they’ll get caught in my throat. Pay attention, Alanis, because that is irony.

So, yay, happy ending, the pill was expelled … except that a little later, a second part of the pill came out of my nose. Followed intermittently by several little pill crumbs. I tried to use a sinus rinse (same basic deal as a neti pot) to flush out any remaining debris, but my sinuses were so ravaged by the errant pill that it felt like pouring a liquid grenade through my head. So I just stayed up all night blowing my nose and reading horror stories about other pills in other, sometimes permanently damaged, noses. In the end, the sun came up, and I seem to have been all right, probably.

Lauren O'Neal is from the Internet and lives in Austin, Texas.

116 Comments / Post A Comment

Four Horsemeals of the Eggporkalypse



Oh, God, the pain of sinus swallowing drugs!

I totally did this with penicillin when I was 10? 11?
It came out of my face, black gunk that should have been ON FIRE based on the kind of pain it caused me.



Jesus H Roosevelt Christ.


"Pay attention, Alanis, because that is irony."


(Also I hope you are okay.)


Mother of God. I guess I know my nightmares tonight.



I feel this is relevant. And even more terrifying.


@djroachgirl Boil the water beforehand! Boil the water beforehand!


@djroachgirl BRAIN-EATING AMOEBA?!?!


@djroachgirl I saw this and immediately said to myself, "Why isn't this on The Hairpin yet?!?!" I am really blase about most Things That Are About To Kill You but. BRAIN-EATING AMOEBA. jesus fuck.

Faintly Macabre

@area@twitter I thought that too!! This is Edith's bread and butter!


@area@twitter I second the jesus fuck.


@djroachgirl Someone with whom I have a very tangential connection is currently infected with Naegliria fowleri. Basically a death sentence.


@djroachgirl I was just thinking about this! Because I have a stay-home-from-work cold and I had been using my knockoff netipot like champ, and now it just scares me.


@djroachgirl HOLY SHIT! No one told me to boil the water. OMFG. This site gives me all new things to be terrified of.


@figwiggin Boil! Boil like the wind! Or use distilled. Seriously, it's fine. Unless you're using pond water in your neti pot or live with untreated well water or use your neti pot to wash you pets, you're fine.

But seriously, folks, don't neti with straight tap water. I feel like this needs to be a PSA.


@djroachgirl Yeah what @angermonkey said, these amoebas live in untreated water (well water) and soil, not in heavily-treated and chlorinated tap water. Now, the chlorine and such in tap water is another problem that can cause irritation. But it irritates amoebas way more.


Well crap. Then I read this story: http://vitals.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/12/16/9503070-neti-pots-linked-to-brain-eating-amoeba-deaths?fb_ref=.TvDjF2KWbuU.like&fb_source=other_oneline
And apparently you can totally still get amoebas through treated, even chlorinated tap water, as that just eliminates maybe 99.9% of them.


Googling this led me to "Afrin addiction" and "rebound congestion."

I will be in my bunker; I suggest you all do the same.


@melis is it like the Breakup Bunker except it's named the Don't Put Shit In Your Nose Bunker?


@melis I actually HAVE an addiction to Sinex (like Afrin, but superior) and rebound congestion resulting from it. Yep. Two years now. Doctor didn't seem too concerned about it, so I'm good.



and SADDLE NOSE (don't Google that)

(no but Google it, I'm worried about you)


@melis AFRIN ADDICTION IS SO WEIRD AND REAL. Had it for a couple weeks during a terrible allergy onset this summer. Shit is CRACK.


@melis @jackeemarie The key is to use Afrin/Sinex on one nostril a day. Use it allll you want, but only on one side. That'll step you down.


@allinmycar I guess I'll try it. I usually only do once a day per nostril anyway.

Vera Knoop

@melis I survived Afrin addiction... you can, too. Seriously, it's the worst, though.


This used to happen to me frequently with bc pills, because they're so small, I guess? Oh, the taste. It never goes away. I'm tasting it right now just thinking about it.


Wait, I want a link to the thing about the spiders. Please?


True story: I took a pill without water once and got a yeast infection in my esophogus and had to take Diflucan. It was extremely painful.


This happens to me all the time with carrots. Sometimes, it's as a result of laughing, talking, or breathing a tiny bit harder than normal while I'm chewing. But I ask people all the time, hey, have you ever gotten carrots stuck in your nose? Isn't it annoying? And they look at me like I have ten heads. So I guess I'm thankful that I'm only dealing with vegetables here, and not like, flaming poison. I'm glad you made it out ok!


@boyofdestiny I got pickle juice up my nose once. It was pretty terrible, but not THIS terrible.


@boyofdestiny This happened to me a few hours after eating a cheeseburger - a hunk of burger fell out of my nose. It still horrifies me to this day.


@boyofdestiny This happened to me with an apple once. For the life of me, I could not get it out for TWO WEEKS. When it finally did decide to get the fuck out of my nose/throat flap thing it looked exactly like brains. It probably was brains.


@boyofdestiny this happens to me basically everytime I eat carrots.


Chewed up pieces of a chocolate bar, once. Worst ever. Or maybe laughing and snorting hot cocoa out of my nose.
Carrots would look amazing, though.


@boyofdestiny Yes, this happens to me with carrots. Actually, only really with carrots. I've never had this problem with anything else. Damn you, carrots!


@boyofdestiny So, this is not food- or nose-related, but on the things getting stuck front...piece of broken condom, falling out hours after the-condom-broke sex? Anyone?


@boyofdestiny YES. Why with carrots? Why only carrots?!


@boyofdestiny PAD THAI NOODLES. TWICE.


@boyofdestiny WHY CARROTS! I signed in just so I could mention that this happens with carrots but apparently I'm not the only one!


@boyofdestiny WHY CARROTS. Oh my god. This has happened to me too.

Tragically Ludicrous

@boyofdestiny I'm allergic to carrots. I guess that's a good thing, because this won't happen to me?

Pound of Salt

@boyofdestiny Once I threw up carrots out of my nose.


@boyofdestiny HAHAHA, I cannot believe this many people have experienced the thing with the carrots through the sinuses. When I was 13 I sneezed them out and proudly declared myself a "Salad shoo-ter!"


@boyofdestiny i once snorfed a chunk of tofu into my sinuses. It came out about half an hour later when i was on a bike ride. not pretty.


@boyofdestiny Carrots for me too! Basically every time I eat them I get their shards in my sinuses.
Maybe I'm eating wrong??


Oh my god, this thread makes me never want to eat again, in case I get stuff stuck in my nose. #Shudderingforever


@boyofdestiny Food that has come out of my nose that I remember: 1) spaghetti (2X) 2) piece of sausage from a sausage pizza 3) piece of bagel, plain 4)crumbs and crumbs of Entenmann's Brand devil's food cake.


Yeah, I think I have a tiny soft palate because I have done this with food more times than is reasonable. (Oh gummy bears, how you cause burning.) I usually can just, um, suck it back down again instead of going all the way through the nose.


@AnotherSarahP I can do this too! The other gross side effect of a weird soft palate is the amount of gunk that finds its way into my sinuses when I vomit. You haven't lived until your sinuses are full of cinnamon-raisin oatmeal, that's what I always say.

Edited to add that I'm not some sort of weird-sinus-having bulimic, I swear! Just unusually prone to nausea, I guess?




@AnotherSarahP And by the way, maybe it's a SarahP thing, because I too have a long list of things that have mysteriously gone up my nose instead of down my throat. (Always have to expel it via nostril, though... it doesn't go back down for me.)


@AnotherSarahP Is that was causes this? I have had to train myself to chew more slowly because if I horf down my food, like my natural inclination is to do, some of it invariably ends up in my sinuses. Hotttttt.



I may be more ... original. 1979!


@Alixana Argh, I've had stuff come out of my nose while vomiting; it was most assuredly not pleasant.

fondue with cheddar

@AnotherSarahP AAAHHH how did I miss this post the first time around?! This happens to me all the time! Never with a pill, fortunately (they just get stuck in my throat). Foods with a bread-like texture are the worst culprits, but it happens with all kinds of food.


First time commenter- couldn't resist!
So sorry this happened to you! Glad to know there are more of you out there.
For some reason this happens to me all the time: carrots, tortilla chips, toast. It hurts and blowing bacon out of your nose is terrifying! Sorry to leave such a gross image in your minds. @AnotherSarahP...yeah me too....


Glad I'm not the only person who worries about my Last Tweet in case of early death. Sometimes I start thinking about my twitter as a document of my life and end up having a mortality-related panic attack where I wonder how long it would take me to go back and delete all my drunk tweets, and whether it would be sadder to do that or to die with a bunch of drunk typos on the books.


@distrighema I feel the same way about Facebook. Also, whenever I decide to Like a band or something I almost always delete the notice that I did so from my feed because I want to pretend like I liked it all along.


@miwome I always worry that my profile picture is acceptable b/c that is what they are going to show on the news if I die in some noteworthy way


I did it this one time with a half-eaten sausage. When you blow a half-eaten sausage out of your nose, it looks like a piece of brain matter.


@GingerJane I did this, too, and now we call that particular kind of sausage "snausage." Gross.

fondue with cheddar

This happens to me often with bread and bread-like things (crackers, donuts). It BURNS. I went to an ear, nose and throat doctor (for an entirely different reason) but mentioned this swallowing problem to him. He told me it wasn't possible (dude was kind of a douchebadger).


ummmm people you need to get rid of your sinuses, seriously, they are revolting!!!

Stingray Bikini


Reading through these comments gives me the same mix of emotions I had the first time I learned some people wipe their ass standing up: morbid curiosity sandwiched between two crusty slices of bewilderment.


@asl87 wait, some people wipe their ass sitting down?!


@redheadedandcrazy CLARIFICATION PLEASE. Is this sarcasm? If not: really?


@klibberfish I see your question, and I reflect it back at you, my good woman!


@redheadedandcrazy @kibberfish Deadspin went to town on this topic a couple of years ago; the comments are EPIC:



@Stingray Bikini oh god oh god, my ex used to talk to me about wiping while standing. He also insisted on taking a shower after he shit because he claimed he'd never get clean otherwise. He also insisted on cleaning the litter boxes out while naked, post shit and pre shower. Oh god, and his balls were enormous and pendulous... I have to go refill my xanax now.

Stingray Bikini

@redheadedandcrazy This is what happens when discussing this topic! Until a year ago I had NO IDEA that anyone would even consider wiping their ass standing up. I look upon all you standers with great suspicion.


I ... have never felt so self-conscious about my bathroom habits :'(


one small consolation is that i don't have enormous, pendulous balls


@redheadedandcrazy TMI time (maybe to make you feel better?): I recently realized that I (and probably no one else) do some kind of weird sitting-but-leaning thing, and I realized this because one day the uneven weight distribution *broke the toilet seat*.




@gravie Aaah it wasn't me! I am forever grateful that it was my own toilet seat I broke (and then repaired with chewing gum because I was moving out that week, I am foul).

Stingray Bikini

@redheadedandcrazy Don't! Apparently half do it one way, half do it the other, and neither side knows the other exists.

Ms. Information

Maybe I shouldn't have read this.


Wait wait WAIT. I still don't understand how this actually happens! I mean I know our nasal cavities and throats are all connected and stuff, but HOW did the pill get UP THERE? Did you swallow it while upside down? Does not compute! How can I prevent this from happening I must know!


My best friend was born with hare lip/cleft palate and has had multiple surgeries throughout her life because her damn palate DOES NOT WANT TO STAY CLOSED. As in, they took a chunk of her hipbone and implanted it in her head and the roof of her mouth gleefully flipped it off.

One night, we were getting ready to go out and she mentioned that something felt 'off', but wasn't sure what. She brushed her teeth, blew her nose and TOOTHPASTE CAME OUT OF HER NOSE. We stood there gaping in horror at the tissue until the burning hit. Oh god, the burning. Neither of us knew what to do, and this was before neti pots were big, so she had to cup her hands under the faucet and snort water until the burning subsided. All this while we're losing our collective shit in her parents' bathroom (but I guess if you're going to lose your shit, it's probably best to do so in a bathroom. Or so I've heard).

At this point, there was no point in going through the ER and her doc was probably in bed, so we decided to follow through on our plan to drink until we couldn't feel feelings.

And yes, everything she ate or drank that night tasted minty.


@ohgodtheglitter I have no soft palate and only half a hard palate as a result of having had oral cancer (see your dentist regularly, you guys! HPV SUCKS!!). I have a pretty pink plastic prosthetic palate that I can hook onto my teeth so I sound ok and eat normally, but. . .when I don't, or when I brush my teeth, the same thing happens.

Toothpaste in your sinuses is not anything anybody is ever going to write lyric poetry about. Neither is snorfing beer or single-malt Scotch (the most painful so far), or getting a bit of pepper from Thai food stuck up on top of your fake palate, or taking out your palate after you've had a big ol' hunk o' something for lunch, and parts of it have worked themselves silently and painlessly into the back of your sinuses.

However, it is a great party trick, to be able to remove the obturator (p.p.p.p.p's official name) and shine a light through your nose, so that people can see the light shining off the back of your throat.

Betsy Murgatroyd

@ohgodtheglitter This gives me such a shudder and even more thankfulness I only had cleft lip and not palate. My sinuses are messed up as it is I can't imagine sucking something like that up into my sinus.
As it stands, I've only had a few things sucked up into my passages (mainly liquid and once a pea) and those times were a few too many.
All of this makes me want to go do a sinus wash, with BOILED water of course.

Briony Fields

Oooh, this happened to me with a french fry once. You know how when you laugh and drink milk, the milk comes out your nose? Same mechanics, except the french fry doesn't come out so much as lodge. I spent the evening trying to expel it with vigorous nose blowing, but only ended up with a nosebleed and a few crumbs rolling out every now and then. Eventually I managed to swallow it.



Lawer-pinners - anyone else think document production on reading this: "my final tweet wouldn’t be a joke about Rule 34 or something"?

bouncy castle

Um I don't know if I should say this because I don't want to upset people who are freaked out by bugs but once I was dating this guy who said that one time? His dad had a bug stuck in his sinuses for some amount of time that my brain is not letting me remember. A big bug. Like a locust or something. Maybe don't think about this for longer than ten seconds after you read this comment.


@bouncy castle Oh my god. Oh my god. I am actually just impressed. Like, how does that happen even? How does that happen? How are the logistics of that possible? How does it fit?

bouncy castle

@automaticdoor I think the story was that he was mountain biking, going really fast downhill, and it happened just like with everyone else's stories, it went in his mouth and straight up the sinus cavity in the back and just. Stuck. There.


Wow! I thought it was bad that I got vinegar in my eyeball today. A pill out the nose? you win!


@workerbee How did you get vinegar in your eyeball? I want to know. I HAVE TO KNOW.


@Mingus_Thurber: Ask a clean and crazy person - how to wash your eyeballs

All Mimsy

Gods I love you people!!!
I'm sitting here trying to giggle silently with out waking my mom up.
So freaking funny!!!


And I thought the time my bff laughed so hard at something I said that she basically snorted a french fry (with ketchup!) up her sinuses.


OMG that happened to me once, too. Sort of. I was on tetracycline and took it right before bed one night. It didn't go all the way down and I got an ulcer in my esophagus! Felt like I was having a heart attack for a week!

little fish

I have awful acid reflux, and I once woke up with a searing pain in my sinuses because the acid had flooded up into my sinuses after I forgot to sleep with my head elevated. Hurt for weeks afterwards.


Once, I was in the checkout line at the grocery store and felt a tickle in my nose. Investigated with a finger and pulled out a long black hair that relaxed into those telltale kinks that immediately identified it as a public hair. As I'm quite pale, it's no surprise I had the attention of everyone around me.


@Myrtle I feel like Friends references never fly anymore but... you are a mystery, little black curly hair, little black curly hair, little black little black little black little black...

Dora Wong@facebook

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@Dora Wong@facebook but have you ever had a bug stuck in your nose?


The first time I did a shot, I somehow ended up snorting the vodka and having it fly out of my nose. Oh, the burning!

You ladies have some horrifying stories. Aloe Kleenex and soothing scented candles for us all!


@TheFattestBunny: Ditto. But I know how I ended up snorting the vodka - my friend made a funny comment just as I was pounding back the shot. I've never quite forgiven him. (Yes, Steve, talking about you.)


Sounds like someone swallowed some Jagged Little Pills... ahhhh sorry I really hope you are okay!!!


@riffmetic alanis!! yes.


Oh boy, this is almost too gross to even write, so stop here if you're eating but one time I threw up out of my nose. I was really sick, throwing up, and then had a wild coughing fit mid-vom. I'm not quite sure what happened but I felt the Burn of Death and it CAME OUT MY NOSE. I sat on the bathroom floor, crying and trying to get the vom and food particles out of there by snorting and blowing my nose a zillion times but it made things worse! My throat, sinuses, and nose burned all day and everything tasted like throwup. I kept trying to gargle it out with listerine, but it just wasn't happening. Worst day ever!


@bonnbee This has happened to me as well. This story in it's entirety, plus rice. I'm sorry, and you're welcome.


@bonnbee when I vomit (which is mercifully infrequent) it inevitably comes out of my nose a little bit. Every time. Hiya, stomach acid!


@bonnbee Same thing happens to me 95% of the time I vomit. It's traumatizing.


It was christmastime and I was twelve. I ate a handful of red and green m&m's and my brother proceeded to fart in my sister's face. I laughed so hard that m&m bits came out of my nose and I blew out red and green snot for a day.


The only noteworthy nose incident I've had is when I was cutting jalapenos, didn't wash my hands immediately, and then touched my nose. The burning spread like wildfire and would. not. stop. After Googling, my solution was to smear yogurt all over (and in) my nose. My husband, bless his heart, didn't even laugh that hard at me. It did work - but I had to leave it on for 15 minutes.


@yamtoes My sister did that once but with a tampon. She uses OBs. It was ugly.


I love you all, Hairpinners. These comments are BRILLIANT.

Vomit through my nose is all I can attest to. I cried and flopped my hand around in the air like a child. Ah, our finest moments with things coming through our sinuses.


I think I'm late to this, but WHAT. How does this happen? How do any of these things happen? Nothing I've put in my mouth has ever come out my nose (that sounds somehow dirty)

However, I've had eye makeup come out my nose before (since tear ducts are connected to the nose, I guess?). Has anyone else noticed this?


I just had the same thing happen to me last night! Terrible pain. What happened to me was my pill that I have also always taken with no problem, dissolved completely in my throat. I has looking in a mirror when I coughed and green mist just came out of my nose and all hell broke lose in my nose and throat. I think because it was fully dissolved it was even harder to dislodge. It took me three hours of vomiting (through both mouth and nose) and nasal mist to get it tolerable. The strangest thing is that I woke up today feeling like I had a cold. I really doubt that it is coincidental. Is it possible to trick my body into thinking its sick? I have a stuffy nose, sore throat, and my glands are swollen. I don't know, I'm just glad it's over and to have found this site to make sure I was not the only one to have this problem.


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