A 37-year-old woman who underwent a nose piercing has developed what doctors later diagnosed as Hepatitis B after the process.
The woman, Dana Smith, a New York resident, said she had the procedure for $60 and that not long after, her health took a drastic turn for the worst as the nose piercing infection led to a life-threatening condition, causing her to need a liver transplant.
ABC7 News reported that the Queens resident started to have stomach pains about a month after the piercing, but she was hesitant to go to the hospital because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Speaking to CBS New York, Smith described her symptoms as stomach pain, noting, “I felt like I kind of lost appetite.”
“I didn’t want to go to the hospital with COVID going on,” she explained to the outlet. But the pain got so bad that “it got to the point where I felt like I didn’t have a choice.”
“I was just drinking water, I couldn’t hold the water down,” Smith said, revealing that her symptoms escalated so much that she “started to throw up blood.”
Her sister took her to Long Island Jewish Medical Centre on January 12, where doctors quickly assessed that she needed a liver transplant and was suffering from fulminant Hepatitis B.
According to Merck Manual, fulminant Hepatitis is “a rare syndrome of rapid (usually within days or weeks), massive necrosis of liver parenchyma and a decrease in liver size” that “usually occurs after infection with certain hepatitis viruses, alcoholic hepatitis, or drug-induced liver injury, DILI.”
Smith was transferred to North Shore University Hospital and placed into a medically-induced coma while waiting for a match for the transplant. One was found within 48 hours, and she had surgery on January 17.
Though doctors were quick to diagnose Smith, what caused the fulminant Hepatitis B was initially a mystery. However, through a process of elimination, medical professionals determined that the hepatitis was due to an infection from the nose piercing.
“This was the one unique change that had taken place in her life, this nose ring,” said Northwell’s Transplant Services Director, Dr. Lewis Teperman. “And it’s the perfect time for the virus to incubate.”
Smith, who returned home on January 26, credits the decision to finally go to the hospital with saving her life — and is sharing her story so that she might help someone else who needs to go to the hospital for treatment.
According to online health platform WebMD, nose piercing has risks.
“Your nose is in what doctors call the ‘danger triangle’ of your face. That’s the area between your eyebrows and upper lip.
“Veins in this area are connected to your sinus cavity. Any procedure on this part of your face could cause a serious infection,” the platform warns.
It added that those who wish to undergo nose piercing are more likely to get:
Infection. Bacteria that line the inside of your nose can cause an infection. And viruses like HIV, hepatitis B or C, or tetanus from poorly sterilized equipment could get into your bloodstream.
Bleeding. Any piercing will bleed. A septum piercing may bleed more than pierced nares. You could also form a hematoma, a swollen bruise that can become infected or disfigure your face.
Loose jewelry. Nose rings or stud backs can loosen or shift in your hole. If that happens, you could inhale or swallow the little metal pieces. Loose studs or backs can also get stuck in your nose’s lining.
Allergic reaction. You could be allergic to the metal in your nose jewelry.
Nerve damage. Nose piercing may damage a nerve and cause numbness or pain.
Scarring. Keloids — lumps of fibrous scar tissue — can form.
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