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Is It Possible to get Food Stuck in Your Sinuses?

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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 17 November 2016
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If you ever snorted with laughter while eating dinner, you may already know that it is possible to get food stuck in your sinuses. It certainly isn’t a pleasant topic to think about, but it does occasionally occur. The reason it’s possible to get food in your sinuses is because of the basic structure of the sinuses in relationship to your mouth.

When you have a cold, you may feel an irritated sensation in the back of your throat. This is often due to the fact that mucus produced in the sinuses drains into the opening of your throat via the nasal passages. Though it isn’t exactly common, when you inhale, cough or laugh while eating, you may actually access this passage and food can get sucked into the sinuses.

Often, there isn’t much cause for concern if you get food stuck in your sinuses, since you will usually immediately cough or snort and send the food right back out again. Another thing to try is a saline nasal rinse, which may help clear the food. If you’re not seeing the food emerge pretty quickly, however, you do need to see a healthcare professional. Food that stays in your sinuses can cause pretty nasty infections if not removed.

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Children can get food stuck in their sinuses in a different way. Kids are inherently curious about their nostrils, and seem to have a natural impulse to want to fill these holes with a variety of objects. This could include food, small toys, crayons, and a lot of other things; children are unfortunately greatly imaginative when it comes to things they will put up their nose. Parents may not be in the know when it comes to these activities, but can look for signs that a child may have put a foreign body in his or her nose.

You may see, for instance, some nose bleeding, and the sinuses may be draining pretty consistently. A child’s nose may be stuffy, and she or he may be coughing and sneezing. Occasionally, if objects have been allowed to sit in the sinuses, you may note an unusual rotting or sweet smell when you sniff near the child’s face. If you suspect that natural curiosity may have gotten the better of common sense, it’s a good idea to take the child to a medical professional who can look at the nasal passages and the sinuses and see if there are any foreign bodies trapped there.

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OeKc05
Post 6

@lighth0se33 – I wish my cousin and I had observed that rule! I laughed so hard at something she did while we were eating fish sticks once that I got some sharp crumbs lodged in my sinuses.

I could feel them in that spot between the back of my nose and my throat. I tried sniffing and reverse snorting for hours, but they would not budge!

I coughed often and blew my nose as hard as I could, but the crumbs weren't going anywhere. I continued to snort air up from my throat to my nose, and after about five hours of this, the crumbs finally fell back into my throat.

It was one of the most uncomfortable things I've ever endured. Sometimes, it is so hard to keep from laughing while eating, so I think your rule is a great one to follow!

lighth0se33
Post 5

My friends and I have a “no humor” rule while we are eating. We have all had bad experiences with laughing while eating, ranging from getting food stuck in our throats to snorting it up into our noses.

We won't watch funny TV shows or tell jokes while eating together. We try to remain as somber as possible to prevent the pain of getting food lodged where it doesn't belong.

seag47
Post 4

@Kristee – This happened to my little brother once. My mother was able to reach up into his nose with some flat tweezers and retrieve the pea.

Tweezers are good, because they allow you to grab the object. You should never just poke something in there in hopes of pushing it out, though, because it might go down into his lungs!

If he still seems to have congested sinuses or has a nosebleed long after you have gotten the pea out, you need to take him to a doctor. Part of the pea may have remained in his nose and caused an infection.

Kristee
Post 3

I babysit my nephew often, and I'm always scared he is going to stick something up his nose. I'm especially scared when we eat peas and carrots for dinner, since the peas are small enough to fit up there.

What should I do if he does stick a pea up his nose? Is there a safe way to get it out without having to go to the doctor? I'd rather take care of it myself so that my sister won't have to find out about it.

Alchemy
Post 2

The article mentioned that kids try to stick things up their noses. I think my daughter has reached this stage.

It started with her pointing to her nose and finger, but slowly progressed to her sticking her fingers in her nose and ears. Now she is using anything she can to try to poke around in her nose or ears.

I guess it is curiosity, but I can't really understand the intrigue. She is a little better about it now, but I still have to watch her with things that are long and slender.

A recent example comes to mind. I was working on my schoolwork one day. I wasn't paying attention for maybe two or three minutes, but as soon as I looked up, she was sticking a French fry up her nose. She sneezed out mashed potato for about the next five or ten minutes.

Amphibious54
Post 1

I have had spicy foods become stuck in my sinuses and it is no fun. I love spicy foods, but occasionally I sneeze and end up with hot pepper sauce or something similar in my sinus cavity.

The best remedy for food in the sinuses, especially when the food is spicy, is a good rinse with a neti pot.

Neti pots are little plastic or porcelain teakettles used to flush sinus cavities with a warm saline solution. There is no better remedy for burning sinuses.

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