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JLeslie's avatar

Is it true that the opening from your nostril to your sinus is minutely small and it is impossible for a foreign object or insect to travel from your nose to your sinus or inner ear?

Asked by JLeslie (55803points) June 30th, 2009

I had a weird pain in my nose and then it traveled within an hour through my sinus to my ear/eustachian tube area (the pain in my nose went away as it moved to my sinus which went away went it got the ear). Now it has settled in my ear or near my ear for 10 days. I am not congested from it.

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16 Answers

skfinkel's avatar

These areas are connected, and things can lodge in the sinuses. I think you might want to be checked out by an ENT doctor (Ears, nose, throat). Maybe a little bug crawled in.

JLeslie's avatar

@skfinkel That’s what I thought a bug or particle or something. I just got back from an ENT and he said it was impossible to be a bug. I had been working in the garden, mulch everywhere, I had to pull a tick from my leg that night, the whole bit. He kept saying I am probably congested, and I said it just feels like a very specific area. There was some pressure/congestion for a couple of days initially, but I think it might have been the body trying to rid itself of whatever the f*-# is in there, excuse my language, but I am annoyed. There is absolutely no pressure now. He talked me into an xray, which I hate doing, and he glanced at it saying the sinus looks clear. THAT IS WHAT I SAID. It is some little thing sitting by my ear. Then he told me the opening is too small for anything to get from my nose to my ear. If he had told me that before, I never would have allowed the xray. I don’t deal well with doctors they dissapointment all of the time :(. He did not numb me up to look way in through my throat or anything…shouldn’t he have? I don’t know if you can see the area I am complaining about from there or not???Are you an ENT? I hope there is an ENT on here.

Thanks for your comment :).

JLeslie's avatar

LOL! I’m not that whacky and paranoid.

hearkat's avatar

I’m an Audiologist; and in 17 years practicing, I have never seen nor heard of a foreign object or insect making its way up the Eustachian tube into the middle ear space.

So let me clarify your symptoms… you have pain in your ear for 10 days… is it constant or intermittent? Is it a sharp pain, dull ache or pressure sensation? Does your hearing seem reduced (if so, by a little or a lot)? Have you had any noises in your ears or dizziness?

@RocketGuy: Funny!

JLeslie's avatar

@hearkat thank you for responding.

I had a pain in my left nostril very specific area-small not like the whole nostril.

The pain traveled through what I call my sinus—up my nose then down below my eye in my cheek (all internal)—even my teeth hurt like when you have a bad sinus infection. Remember as it moves through my face it is relieved in the area it was in…literaly like a small thing moving.

Finally settled near my ear or E. tube. so now that it has ended up at my “ear” all other accute pain is gone. (this process took less than an hour)I did have some pressure, maybe congestion, for a couple of days, but it all went away.

Now I am left with pain still near my ear. Very small area of discomfort.

So, I am curious if it is possible for some particle or insect to be in there? Can that area the e tube or near the ear be seen if I am numbed up and they look back in my throat?

When I described it to a doctor he kept saying it is probably an infection, I described my symptoms again, and he said, “people describe things differently,” I have to say I am not happy right now, because I was trying to emphasize that it was a very specific pain—small—like a couple/few millimeters in diameter maybe from my perception. I got an XRAY, which I did NOT want to do, just for the doc to say I was not congested/infected. well, I SAID that. Then the doc said that the opening from my nostril to the sinus is like a penpoint and it is impossible for something to have gotten through there. Well, if he had said that I would NOT have let him do the Xray. I am pretty upset actually.

I am fine if it is impossible for something to be there, I just have no trust in the doctor I just saw, because I do not feel like I was heard. If the answer is I have to wait it out fine (although I thouht I had been doing that for 10 days)...I am not looking to be sick…I’m just frustrated. Can’t remember if I mentioned that I was out gardening two days straight. My husband pulled a tick from my leg, I got mulch in my eye…all sorts of crap…and then this. I need to move to a condo on the beach in FL with a screened in terrace :).

I appreciate any of your help from an anatomy perspective.

What do you think?

JLeslie's avatar

My pain is constant does not affect my hearing. No pressure, just irritated in a very small area.

hearkat's avatar

As I said, I’ve never heard of it happening. The eustachian tube is typically pinched closed, and then opens briefly when yawning or swallowing to equalize the pressure. I don’t know the diameter of the tube… but it is tiny. The pharyngeal opening of the Eustachian tube may be visible with a scope, but the scope can’t go up the tube itself.

I am a person who will never say never… however, it is highly unlikely that an insect would survive in the nasal-pharyngeal cavity and find its way to the eustachian tube. The same is true for pollen or anything like that… the design of the ear is for things to drain down the tube, not to work their way up it.

Have you had problems with your ears before? Can you voluntarily pop your ears and keep breathing normally?

If the Doctor said it was Infected, did you get an antibiotic? Did they measure the pressure in your middle ear with a tympanogram or test your hearing?

JLeslie's avatar

@hearkat I don’t feel like it is up the tube necessarily, I feel like if I had no gag reflex I could reach waaayyy back and touch it possibly. I do not think something crawled up the tube, I feel like something crawled up my nose and then travelled around, but is sitting in there instead of draining through to eventually be swallowed (gross sorry) does that make sense?

I can pop my ears, breath, all of that. I don’t feel like it is right at the drum, or what I perceive as the ear drum.

He said he sees no infection looking in my ear or throat or on XRAY. That is what I told him he would find. It is one specific area at this point, thats it. My perception was that the initial congestion was to rid the body of the invader (just to use a word rocketguy might appreciate).

casheroo's avatar

It’s definitely a bug.

JLeslie's avatar

@casheroo I knew it! Lol.

hearkat's avatar

This is really intriguing, and all I can suggest is that you go for a second opinion.

Do you still have your tonsils and adenoids?

I see that you are in Memphis… I know that there’s a major ENT program in the area… see if you can get an appointment with a specialist from the University.

I hope you feel better soon!

JLeslie's avatar

@hearkat Yes, I have my adenoids and my tonsils, no significant health history with this part of my body.

I still have the original question…is the space between my nostril and the cavity to the side of my nose/front of my face only a very minute space? I looked at an anatomy diagram and it does not appear that way to me, it looks like it is easily around a 5 mm to a centimeter or so. This other doc described it like a pen point.

Thanks for your time and interest. I am due to take augmentin for a different health problem, which I dread. I was waiting for some cultures to come back. Maybe I will hold off on a second opinion and see how I do on the antibiotic since it happens to be one that works on the sinus.

hearkat's avatar

I think that there was a misunderstanding, because I thought your question was about the Eustachian tube, and I suspect that the ENT was referring to that as well.

The nostrils open into the pharynx, and the opening is larger than a pinpoint. If you feel that the locus of your pain is in the pharynx, you may want to try a sinus rinse with saline to see if you can flush it out. It feels like when you get water up your nose while swimming, so it’s not too bad.

Yes, the Augmentin is effective for upper respiratory infections, but can aggravate your digestion; so you may want to eat some yogurt to help keep the healthy cultures in your GI tract.

JLeslie's avatar

@hearkat It went through this cavity. again, nostril up, then down into the cavity behind the front of my face then settled near my ear/eustachian tube, that is my perception. That is how it felt. All left side. Is that not a possible path for something? It is not in my sinus now. Maybe I am describing it poorly, but with the doc I could show him visually.

I really appreciate you pointing out that we are miscommunicating, that is good for me to know if I go to the doctor again. I tried to emphasize to him that I don’t think it is my ear drum, but in the vicinity of my ear, I don’t know the anatomy there well. I never thought he would see something looking in my ear.

hearkat's avatar

The whole area is so highly ennervated and sensitive and prone to referred pain – where we sense the discomfort in a different place than where the actual problem is. Sinus pressure that causes tooth pain is a good example. So if it is near the Eustachian tube opening in the pharynx, you could feel that it’s in/near your ear.

Please post back with updates, because I am really curious about this. Thanks!

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