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effects of cocaine on your nose

Effects of Cocaine on Your Nose

Effects of Cocaine on Your Nose: Risks and Consequences

What does cocaine do to your nose? If you or someone you know is a chronic cocaine user, you must be wondering about the answer to this question, given drastic changes occur in the nose after a long period of cocaine use.

Now, cocaine use in the United States is alarmingly prevalent, with approximately 5.2 million people aged 12 or older reported using cocaine in 2020. The effects of this powerful drug are fatal, leading to severe damage to bodily systems like the central nervous system and the respiratory system. In today’s article, we will focus more on the effects of using cocaine on the nose. Stick around to learn what the drug does to your nasal structure!

Watch the following video to learn how Harmony Junction Recovery can help:

Here’s What Cocaine Does to Your Nose

effects of cocaine on your nose

To better understand this concept, it is important to understand that cocaine can be consumed in a variety of ways, including injection and snorting. Snorting, which involves sniffing cocaine powder through the nose, is the most preferred method as it delivers a long-lasting high. That said, let’s delve into the intricacies of cocaine nose.

Cocaine Nose: What is Coke Nose?

Snorting cocaine is all fun and games until someone comments that you have a cocaine nose. If you still don’t know what a cocaine nose is, let us guide you right here.

A cocaine nose, or perhaps a coke nose, is technically the severe nasal damage that results from the prolonged use of cocaine.

Let’s get technical here for a minute. When you snort cocaine, it is absorbed into the bloodstream through the mucus membrane. Given that cocaine is an anesthetic, it causes temporary numbness in the nose. This constricts the blood vessels in the nose, reducing blood flow.

Now, when your blood vessels are repeatedly constricted every time you snort the drug, it deprives the nasal passage of getting oxygen and essential nutrients needed. This, in turn, leads to tissue necrosis.

If users don’t stop using cocaine during this stage, the nasal septum, which is basically the thin wall of cartilage that separates the two nostrils, is damaged. Users will likely have perforations or holes in this septum. This perforation of the nasal septum prevents the nose from doing its job, such as mucus production.

The Immediate Impact of Cocaine on Nasal Health

effects of cocaine on your nose

Cocaine by itself is a powerful stimulant that can be mixed with dangerous toxins such as fentanyl, laxatives, and Lidocaine. Once these toxins become present in your nostrils for a lengthy period, they damage important tissues needed for your nose’s functioning, including breathing, smelling, and purification.

Here are some of the common cocaine effects on the nose:

  • Nosebleeds: If you have a coke nose, you are more likely to nose bleed because of the weakened nasal lining.
  • Nasal Congestion: The nose filters and humidifies the air you breathe. Chronic cocaine use causes inflammation and swelling, which blocks the nasal passage. This leads to nasal congestion, which makes breathing difficult.
  • Nasal Irritation: As mentioned earlier, cocaine is mostly mixed with other substances that cannot be detected with bare eyes. These chemicals are not meant to be inhaled through the nose as they irritate the nasal lining.

Clint Kreider, a clinical psychologist with over 5 years in drug and alcohol treatment, explains that mixing Xanax and cocaine causes detrimental effects on the nose. Moreover, the expert highlights that combining the two drugs may accelerate the development of addiction and dependence, which can lead to septal perforations that may be visible on the outside.

Short-Term and Long-Term Effects of Cocaine on the Nose

What does cocaine do to your nose exactly? Below, we have discussed both the short-term and long-term effects you can expect if you or your loved one has been using cocaine for as long as you can remember.

Short-Term Effects

  • Immediate Physical Sensations: In case you are wondering what a cocaine nose looks like immediately after snorting, this is it. First, the nose is red due to numbness and blood vessel constriction. The second thing you will notice is increased mucus production.
  • Irritation and Inflammation of Nasal Tissues: Irritation and inflammation of nasal tissues are still an answer on what cocaine does to your nose. As mentioned, most cocaine sold in the US contains harmful toxins, which lead to irritation and inflammation once they are in contact with your membrane.
  • Nosebleeds and Crusting: This is yet another sign of a cocaine nose. Irritation of the nasal lining causes bleeding. Constricted blood vessels can also burst when the effects of cocaine wear off, causing nose bleeds. When the blood dries up, it results in clots or small crusts inside the nostrils.

Long-Term Cocaine Effects On the Nose

  • Chronic Inflammation and Sinus Infections: Like mentioned earlier one of cocaine’s effects on the nose is tissue damage. Over time, damaged tissue may swell, leading to chronic inflammation. Additionally, long-term cocaine use weakens the immune system, making users more vulnerable to nasal infections. When this infection occurs, users are expected to take a medical detox while using the antibiotic cream to manage the infection.
  • Nasal Septum Perforation: Chronic cocaine use weakens your nasal septum, causing holes or openings within the septum. Nasal perforation is very uncomfortable as it affects an individual’s ability to breathe properly. During this stage, it is important to enroll in an inpatient treatment. More damage may lead to collapse.
  • Loss of Smell and Other Sense Impairments: The olfactory epithelium, located high up in the nasal cavity, allows one to smell. Cocaine use can damage this sensitive tissue through chronic inflammation and reduced blood flow, impairing the function of olfactory receptors and leading to a diminished sense of smell.
  • Structural Damage and Collapse of Nasal Cartilage: Structural Damage and collapse of nasal cartilage is yet another answer on what does cocaine do to your nose. If you don’t stop using cocaine after the nasal perforation stage. This is bound to happen. Your septum can no longer hold up the nostrils, making the nose appear flatter and wider. Wondering how to fix a Coke nose? Sadly, only nasal reconstructive surgery can fix this type of damage.

Physiological Mechanism Behind Cocaine Nose Damage

For a better understanding of what cocaine does to your nose, allow us to explain the physiological mechanism and the science behind it. Firstly, cocaine abuse induces vasoconstriction, narrowing blood vessels and reducing blood flow to nasal tissues. We would liken it to someone trying to force a camel into the eye of a needle.

That said, restricted blood flow also reduces oxygen and nutrient supply, leading to tissue necrosis and ulceration. Continuous irritation and inflammation compromise the integrity of the nasal mucosa, which is crucial for filtering air and maintaining moisture.

And let’s not forget to mention that cocaine use also damages the tiny-hair-like structures that help move mucous and debris out of nasal passages. This damage puts one at risk of cocaine overdose as the powder is not trapped before going into the nostril. The result? Chronic congestion, frequent nosebleeds, runny nose, and sometimes irreparable damage to the nasal septum.

Symptoms of Nose Damage From Cocaine Use

effects of cocaine on nose

Blocked Nose

Damage to the membrane lining automatically leads to a stuffy nose. This is because irritation on the lining leads to inflammation, which in turn obstructs your nasal airways, leading to blockage. Unfortunately, nasal blockage can occur in both chronic and occasional users. This is because the membrane lining is very sensitive and prone to irritation.

Nasal Septum Damage

As mentioned earlier, cocaine use causes vasoconstriction, which restricts blood flow to the septum, which separates your two nostrils. Over time, less supply of oxygen and essential nutrients in this area causes the tissue to die, resulting in a hole. Nasal septum perforation affects chronic users.

Facial Pain

Facial pain is yet another symptom that is likely to face most chronic users.

You see, cocaine is highly addictive; once you are hooked, your rate of consumption increases. Now, if you are taking more than the normal dose, chances are you will also damage the surrounding structures alongside the nose. For example, you may damage the hard plate of the mouth, which is right next to the inside of your nose. When you develop holes in this area, you may experience facial pains when moving your mouth.

Nose Crusts and Sores

Cocaine is an extremely potent drug, and its prolonged use damages the tissues that are responsible for mucus production. This causes a drying effect on the nasal mucosa, causing open sores and scabs inside the nostrils. This explains why most cocaine users are either picking or sniffing. While it’s possible for the damaged tissue to heal over time, this is more likely to happen if the user takes a medical detox.

Nose Bleeds

Just like your water pipes are likely to burst due to the excess pressure, the same adage explains why nose bleeding is common in cocaine abusers. So, as the blood vessels are constricted, the blood pressure increases, causing the vessels to burst open.

Change in Hearing

Again, the repeated use of cocaine damages the structures surrounding the nose. This includes the eustachian tube, which connects the throat to the middle ear. As cocaine causes sinus infection and inflammation, it blocks the tubes, leading to pressure imbalances and fluid buildup in the ear. This explains the muffled hearing.

Preventing and Reversing Cocaine-Induced Nasal Damage

If you are wondering how to fix a Coke nose, the first step is to stop using the drug completely. To do this, users should consider going for a medical detox in a well-structured and serene rehab facility. Cold turkey can be risky, given that cocaine has severe withdrawal symptoms.

Once drug-free, you can now seek a healthcare professional to assess the level of damage to the nose. From there, they can provide you with a definitive diagnosis and guide you on whether to go for plastic surgery or not. If instructed to go for surgery, the procedure can range from septoplasty, which reconstructs the septum, to more involved procedures that use grafts to repair the hole. The type of surgery is subjective to the size of the whole.

For anyone who is not recommended for surgery, ensure you keep the nose area clean and ensure optimal humidity in living spaces to prevent drying out the nasal passages.

Lastly, users should consider going to a cocaine addiction center to address the root problem and prevent relapse after the healing process. The US provides a wide range of addiction treatment centers to support individuals battling with cocaine addiction.

Need Help for Cocaine Addiction? Harmony Junction Recovery is Here to Help!

Snorting cocaine regularly can cause significant damage to the nose and throat. However, it’s never too late to take a turning point and stop cocaine use for good.

If you or someone you know is struggling with cocaine addiction and worried about the appearance of the nose, contact Harmony Junction Recovery. We are a premier medical detox and addiction treatment center in Orange County, CA, ready to walk you through a range of treatment options for cocaine addiction, addressing both physical and psychological aspects. Further, our experienced team provides personalized care to help you overcome addiction, heal nasal damage, and regain a healthy life. Contact us today to start your journey toward recovery and well-being.