A nose ring was lost by a Cincinnati guy five years ago. He searched high and low for it but couldn’t find it. He eventually gave up hope of finding it. However, last month, 35-year-old Joey Lykins went to the emergency room complaining that something was blocking his airways. When doctors took an X-ray of the man’s severe cough to see what was causing it, they discovered something incredibly unusual: His missing nose ring was trapped in his lung.

Lykins, a groundskeeper by trade, was alarmed when he overheard doctors discussing the possibility that he might have pneumonia. However, it turned out that the source of his coughing and airway blockage was not an infection at all, but rather a 0.6-inch nose ring that had become lodged in the upper left lobe of his lung.

“Are you kidding me? I’ve been looking for that!” Lykins said after doctors told him the result of the X-ray.

He believes he must have breathed in his nose ring while sleeping, now that he knows where it went. The ring had been discovered in his septum. When he awoke the next morning without his nose ring, he looked everywhere for it, “turning my bedroom upside down” in order to recover it. Little did he know it was hiding inside his body, trapped in his lung.

The jewelry went missing five years ago, and at that time he had been wearing it for three to four years. He didn’t expect it to go down his airway, but sometimes this type of jewelry can “pop out” of its place. If that happens, inhaling it through the nasal cavity is possible, or it might fall into the person’s mouth and get swallowed or inhaled.

Fortunately, after much testing, doctors were able to finally identify the cause of Lykins’ sudden five-year-old cough and trouble breathing: his nostril ring. However, they still don’t know why the ring caused these health issues now when it had been missing for half a decade.

He was back at the hospital three days later to have the ring removed from his lungs after doctors found out about it. The piercing had adhered to scar tissue that had grown in his lung. They put him under general anesthetic and conducted a bronchoscopy. This method is often utilized to unblock airways or remove objects from the lungs, as health care professionals passed a pipe into Lykins’ lungs and used it to capture the foreign object and pull it out of his body.

Lykins plans to keep the nose ring as a reminder.

“I’m glad it didn’t puncture my lung,” he stated. “It had never caused me problems, I’ve coughed, but I never thought too much of it. I didn’t know what was going on, but I never thought that was what it was. I’ve never heard of it happening before.”

Lynkins is delighted to have located his lost nose ring and removed it from his lung.