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4 Possible Signs of Nose Damage From Cocaine Use

By Zawn Villines
A coke addict’s nose may suffer many problems, ranging from nosebleeds to life-threatening infections.

Snorting powdered cocaine offers a quick, needle-free high. It also increases the risk of damage to the nose and sinuses, especially with prolonged use. 

Snorting cocaine can cause considerable damage to a person’s nose,” Marta Ra, PhD, CEO of Paracelsus Recovery, tells WebMD Connect to Care. According to Ra, cocaine decreases the amount of blood the brain sends to the nose. This deprives the nasal cells of oxygen, potentially damaging or killing them. If you are using cocaine, and especially if your use has escalated to cocaine addiction, watch for these signs of your nose damage from coke use. 

Sinus Infections

Cocaine use increases the risk of sinus pain and sinus infections because the drug irritates the nose and sinuses. According to a 2016 article published in The International Journal on Orbital Disorders, Oculoplastic and Lacrimal Surgery, cocaine can cause serious sinus infections that spread to other areas of the body. Necrotizing sinusitis is a type of rapidly spreading infection that kills cells, potentially damaging the nose, sinuses, and surrounding structures, such as the eyes. If left untreated, it can be fatal, according to a 2019 article published in Clinical Medical Image Library.

Perforated Septum

Ra says that a hole in the septum is relatively common among cocaine addicts. It happens when a decreased blood supply to the nose causes cells to die. The septum is a collection of bone, cartilage, and tissue that divides the two sides of the nose. A hole can change the shape of the nose, cause serious breathing problems, and lead to chronic infections and pain. In some cases, damage to the septum can reduce support in the nose, destabilizing it and causing the nasal valve to collapse. This can make breathing difficult, and may cause further complications, Ra says. 

Bloody or Runny Nose 

Cocaine addicts may find that their nose becomes runny. They can also experience nosebleeds. A 2017 article published in Atherosclerosis explains that regular cocaine use can damage blood vessels throughout the body. The damage begins when cocaine use constricts blood vessels, changing bleeding patterns. This change in bleeding patterns may help explain nosebleeds. 

Breathing Issues

Cocaine abuse increases the risk of several breathing issues, according to a 2020 article published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence. Cocaine users also have a higher risk of asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and pneumonia. Cocaine may damage the lungs in several ways. According to a 2019 article published in Revue des Maladies Respiratoires, substances like talc and cellulose that a person ingests along with cocaine may damage the lungs. It may also cause chronic airway damage that leads to a collapsed lung, bleeding in the alveoli of the lungs, and numerous other complications. 

Don’t Wait. Get Help Now. 

Don’t let cocaine destroy your life. If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, WebMD Connect to Care Advisors are standing by to help. 

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