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View Full Version : Can I damage my nose with a ShopVac?


Swallowed My Cellphone
02-24-2007, 12:44 PM
So I've had a terrible, terrible head cold. I've been cranky and desperate for relief. I started thinking that commercial where you see a guy about to stick a drill up his nose as totally reasonable.

Earlier this morning I was vacuuming up a spill (entire pot of coffee) and as I watching the great efficiency with which my little, one gallon, wet-dry ShopVac pulled up every trace of liquid, I thought to myself, ::shrug:: "Well, what the fuck..." and stuck my nose in the end of the tube.

Glory be! It did exactly what I thought it would do! I kept my mouth open and could feel the rush of air across my tongue and throat as all extra fluid drained out of my head (brain possibly included, although it's kind of small). The immediate relief was awesome! Although my sinuses are still all squooshy so it still feels like there is cotton in my head, and if not for the cough medicine I took, I'm sure my nose would be filling right up again. But I've been breathing clearly all morning and feeling much better.

But it was just a one-time experiment. Something, I just had to do on stupid impulse. But what I wanna know is, was that dangerous?

Could I have blown out my ears? Sucked out the lining of my sinuses? Vaporized my tonsils? Pull out my vocal cords? Tangled up my togue? Pulled my eyeballs right into my skull?

In case anyone is wondering: whenever I vacuum up anything organic like food or plant matter, my "clean the ShopVac regimen" is to suck through one gallon of very hot soapy water, followed by a rinse of one gallon of white vinegar and water. So there's no bucket of snot lying around.

P.S. Don't tell my finacee.

Fetchund
02-24-2007, 12:46 PM
I, for one, am VERY interested in the answers to this one... sounds brilliant, and slightly scary!

Swallowed My Cellphone
02-24-2007, 01:09 PM
I, for one, am VERY interested in the answers to this one... sounds brilliant, and slightly scary!Mostly it made me laugh... in a "Hold my beer an watch this!" kind of way.

Nothing bad happened with my little experiment. Although the ShopVac felt a LOT more powerful than I expected, and I had a fleeting thought of: "Gee, I wonder if this could rupture a blood vessel and kill me?"

Harmonious Discord
02-24-2007, 01:09 PM
The ears nose and lungs, could have been damaged. I have to say the brain could have been affected also, the eyes tear duct and the nose are connect also, so you'll suck your eyes out. Get a powerful vacuum and you can suck out the whole head cavity. I picture a liposuction film when imagining the brain coming down the hose.

Swallowed My Cellphone
02-24-2007, 01:20 PM
the eyes tear duct and the nose are connect also, so you'll suck your eyes out.Now I have a Tim Burtonesque image of eyeballs looking out from my nostrils...

fifty-six
02-24-2007, 01:21 PM
Great Idea.

I am gonna try it next time.

Swallowed My Cellphone
02-24-2007, 01:28 PM
Great Idea.

I am gonna try it next time.You might want to wait ubntil we've determined whether or not what I did was "goofy" or "horriblyfuckingstupidwhat'swrongwithyouidiot!"

It didn't feel like it had enough force to rip out my tongue, but I honestly did think for second that it might rupture a blood vessel or something. Then afterwards I started wonder about the effects on the eustachian tubes of my ears and stuff. That's why I was sure to keep my mouth open: so the airflow would just run through my throat and sinuses and not "pull" on anything.

Vaguely reminds me of when a school buddy of mine snorted a spaghetti noodle so one end was out of his mouth and the other was hanging out of his nostril. Good times!

Autolycus
02-24-2007, 01:35 PM
Well, you already swallowed a cellphone and survived so this seems right up your alley ;)

Randy Seltzer
02-24-2007, 01:43 PM
My first thought is that that very same air tract is subjected to ridiculous pressures during a sneeze.

My second thought is that a sneeze pressurizes said air tract the other way.

My third thought (I'm keeping these nicely in order for ya) is that if you accidently let your glottis close during this process --or if the vaccuum sucks your glottis shut-- then you're subjecting your sinuses etc. to a sudden severe drop in pressure, and yeah, you risk all the abovementioned horrors.

My fourth thought is about the leftover pizza I want to microwave for lunch.

AskNott
02-24-2007, 02:32 PM
The safety page of my vacuum cleaner's owner's manual says, "Keep hair, loose clothing, fingers, and all body parts away from openings..."

That seems clear enough.

Sonia Montdore
02-24-2007, 06:11 PM
This is a refreshing change. The nose is not the anatomical protuberance that one usually associates with vacuum cleaners.

Swallowed My Cellphone
02-24-2007, 06:43 PM
The safety page of my vacuum cleaner's owner's manual says, "Keep hair, loose clothing, fingers, and all body parts away from openings..."

That seems clear enough.Well, yes. Vacuum cleaners often have beater brushes, fans, and fanbelts that can do serious injury if it pulls in body parts or folds of skin. And as Sonia implied, you hear about penile lacerations from people think "hey, I bet my pecker could fit in there..." But my little ShopVac has no moving parts at the end of the hose. We used to vacuum Smartie, the dog (shaggy), with it and the vet said that was okay. I certainly wouldn't recommened that people go vacuuming their noses, of course, and I freely admit that what I did was pretty stupid.

I'm sure if a ShopVac was a safe and effective method for dealing with a head cold, they'd be marketed like crazy for that purpose and everyone would have one. So I assume it's neither safe nor effective.

(Must remember to ignore the inside voice that tells me to stick my nose in a vacuum hose and set things on fire).

It was good for a chuckle, but I won't be doing it again anyway. It was one of those stupid things you do like sticking your tongue to a metal signpost in winter because your dumbass friend told you to and you were stupid enough to go along with it.

But, I'm curious about what scary fate I managed to escape.

Randy - good points. I wonder how the pressure change that you mentioned compares to something like airplane cabin depressurization at altitude? Although I stuck my nose against the tube for less than 10 seconds, I did close my throat for a sec to see what would happen. It just made my nostrils close. My ears are fine although I'd certainly never want to try anything so silly with a larger more powerful machine - that would be scary as hell.

Meh, in any case, my cough medicine has worn off and my nose is full again. ::sigh:: Oh, well. Off to buy more tissues.

BJMoose
02-24-2007, 08:22 PM
With enough suction, you'd probably rupture your eardrums. (Some years back an old guy I knew tore his eardrums while blowing his nose.)

Chief Pedant
02-24-2007, 11:17 PM
So I've had a terrible, terrible head cold. I've been cranky and desperate for relief. I started thinking that commercial where you see a guy about to stick a drill up his nose as totally reasonable.

Earlier this morning I was vacuuming up a spill (entire pot of coffee) and as I watching the great efficiency with which my little, one gallon, wet-dry ShopVac pulled up every trace of liquid, I thought to myself, ::shrug:: "Well, what the fuck..." and stuck my nose in the end of the tube.

Glory be! It did exactly what I thought it would do! I kept my mouth open and could feel the rush of air across my tongue and throat as all extra fluid drained out of my head (brain possibly included, although it's kind of small). The immediate relief was awesome! Although my sinuses are still all squooshy so it still feels like there is cotton in my head, and if not for the cough medicine I took, I'm sure my nose would be filling right up again. But I've been breathing clearly all morning and feeling much better.

But it was just a one-time experiment. Something, I just had to do on stupid impulse. But what I wanna know is, was that dangerous?

Could I have blown out my ears? Sucked out the lining of my sinuses? Vaporized my tonsils? Pull out my vocal cords? Tangled up my togue? Pulled my eyeballs right into my skull?

In case anyone is wondering: whenever I vacuum up anything organic like food or plant matter, my "clean the ShopVac regimen" is to suck through one gallon of very hot soapy water, followed by a rinse of one gallon of white vinegar and water. So there's no bucket of snot lying around.

P.S. Don't tell my finacee.

Those of us who have spent a lot of years in the ED absolutely love guys like you because that's the only way we find out what does happen...it doesn't sound like a good idea to me as a physician, but hey--patients have taught me all sorts of stuff. We do have a small straw-sized medical suction thing we stick up noses all the time so your thinking cap is definitely on as far as the general concept.

My guess is that you could do some serious damage. If, for instance, your eustachian tubes (they connect your throat with your middle ear) don't get sucked closed fast enough, you could damage your middle ear. Not good. If your vocal folds didn't snap shut fast enough you could injure a lung with a rapid loss of pressure.

Overall it appears my concerns are completely incorrect, at least in your study of one. I don't think you'll rupture a blood vessel, in any case; it's usually picking out dried snot manually that does that.

Was your cellphone able to pass all the way through unharmed? I've never seen an object that big not have to be removed back out from whichever end it entered the GI tract.

Swallowed My Cellphone
02-25-2007, 12:43 AM
My guess is that you could do some serious damage. If, for instance, your eustachian tubes (they connect your throat with your middle ear) don't get sucked closed fast enough, you could damage your middle ear. Not good. If your vocal folds didn't snap shut fast enough you could injure a lung with a rapid loss of pressure. The ear thing would have hurt at the time, right? I'm not going to wake up deaf tomorrow or anything I hope.

My ears were actually my biggest worry, so while I was stupid to begin with, I tried to mitigate my stupidity by making sure that at no point was there a total seal. There was air rushing in on either side of my nose for example and I took a deep breath first to exhale with the suction, and kept my mouth open so it was drawing air in through my mouth.

I don't think the actual suction was that powerful because I felt as if I still could have drawn a breath and filled my lungs despite the vacuum.

Overall it appears my concerns are completely incorrect, at least in your study of one. .Glad to be of assistance, although it was a one-time deal. Another idiot will have to come along to give it a try so we can compare notes.

Alan Smithee
02-25-2007, 04:33 AM
I wish you hadn't mentioned this. I hate having a stuffy nose and sinuses, and I just know that next time I have a cold I'm going to think of this. It sounds delightful.

For safer relief, I've resorted to various methods of shooting warm water up my nose. Does wonders for a head cold. You can actually buy nasal syringes or aspirators for sucking the snot out of babies, but they don't work as well as irrigation, IME.

Like I said, I hate having a stuffy nose.

Lynn Bodoni
02-25-2007, 05:31 AM
I wish you hadn't mentioned this. I hate having a stuffy nose and sinuses, and I just know that next time I have a cold I'm going to think of this. It sounds delightful. I wouldn't say it sounds delightful, but I'm sure that I'll be extremely tempted next time my nose clogs up. I have to admit that I've been fascinated by this all evening.

Chief Pedant
02-25-2007, 06:17 AM
The ear thing would have hurt at the time, right? I'm not going to wake up deaf tomorrow or anything I hope.



You will not have some type of insidious delayed effects. Any untoward effect would be mechanical in nature and be accompanied by immediate symptoms, in my opinion (which is worth what you are paying for it).

Seriously, it's probably not safe. The suction is too strong and too unmanageable to be prudent.

Seven
02-25-2007, 06:48 AM
Putting your nose in a vacuum doesn't sound like a good idea to me.

You might want to use these instead (http://neilmed.com/). They flush out the sinus nicely. You can use cool water if your sinus are inflamed. Good stuff.

The added bonus - it's safe.

Swallowed My Cellphone
02-25-2007, 11:56 AM
You will not have some type of insidious delayed effects. Any untoward effect would be mechanical in nature and be accompanied by immediate symptoms, in my opinion (which is worth what you are paying for it).
Phew! I'm not gonna do it again, but I'm relieved I didn't hurt myself.

Qadgop the Mercotan
02-25-2007, 12:11 PM
Just get a neti pot, why don't you? http://jalanetipot.com/

Swallowed My Cellphone
02-25-2007, 01:37 PM
Just get a neti pot, why don't you? http://jalanetipot.com/TDoesn't that feel bad? :: remembering snorting water in the pool as a kid::

Ferret Herder
02-25-2007, 01:41 PM
TDoesn't that feel bad? :: remembering snorting water in the pool as a kid::
It's salt water, so it shouldn't feel all that weird. Regular or chlorinated water would be quite unpleasant.

Qadgop the Mercotan
02-25-2007, 01:58 PM
TDoesn't that feel bad? :: remembering snorting water in the pool as a kid::
Nope. The saline is about the same concentration as is in normal nasal mucous.

It basically rinses out the nasal passages much more gently than a shopvac would clean them out, while providing moisture to dry, cracked, and scabbed areas in the nares. One may repeat as often as needed, and I and a lot of patients swear by them for our chronic nasal congestion/allergies/sinus infections, which use to require buckets of antibiotics, decongestants, antihistamines and nasal steroids to treat (and not particularly successfully at that).

And no, I get no kickback from the neti pot people ;)

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