Man with sinus infection had drugs smuggled up his nose for 18 years


It’s a problem many Australians suffer through, especially in spring, but the cause of one Sydney man’s sinus issues is, fair to say, pretty unusual.

In a case published by the British Medical Journal (BMJ) a 48-year-old man was plagued by constant headaches and sinus problems for years.

The man, who has not been named, sought help at Westmead Hospital where he underwent a CAT scan — and the results shocked everyone.

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For years the man had sinus problems and headaches.
media_cameraFor years the man had sinus problems and headaches.

The scan revealed he had a 1.9cm by 1.1cm lesion in his right nostril, with a further nasendoscopy making a horror discovery.

Inside the lesion was a “firm grey mass” in his nasal cavity that was then removed while he was under general anaesthetic.

After the item’s removal, it was discovered to be a “‘rubber capsule containing degenerate vegetable/plant matter” that turned out to be cannabis, the BMJ reported.

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The man then remembered that while he was in jail 18 years ago, a girlfriend had smuggled him a balloon full of the drug and he had shoved the package up his nose to avoid detection.

Despite smuggling the cannabis past guards, the man had a problem when it came to retrieving the package — he couldn’t find it.

For nearly two decades the man was living with cannabis up his nose. Picture: istock
media_cameraFor nearly two decades the man was living with cannabis up his nose. Picture: istock

The man told medical staff he believed the package had somehow gone down his throat, and he subsequently forgot about it, when, in fact, he had pushed the drugs further up into his nasal cavity where they remained stuck.

The man had been plagued with nasal problems for years after the failed drug smuggle but never attributed it to the package, the BMJ said.

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Fortunately, after its removal the man never experienced any more nasal issues and, at a follow-up appointment three months later, he told doctors his problems had been resolved.

While extreme, the Sydney man’s case is an example of a rhinolith, a stone or small, hard object that gets stuck in a nasal cavity.

According to the BMJ, this case is only the second rhinolith to involve illegal drugs, with the only other reported incident involving codeine and opium wrapped in a sheet.

Originally published as Horrifying find in man’s blocked nose


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