Snorting cocaine, commonly called “coke,” has become a common practice amongst its users. While the drug temporarily elevates mood, increases energy, and reduces inhibitions, chronic cocaine abuse takes a serious toll on the delicate tissues of the nasal passageways.
Over time, coke can weaken the nasal septum and cause cosmetic deformities – a condition known as “coke nose.” If you’re concerned about your nose health or a loved one’s coke use, keep reading to learn more.
What is Coke Nose?
Repeating snorting coke can lead to what’s known as a “coke nose” – physical damage inflicted on the nose due to long-term cocaine abuse. When inhaled, the drug and adulterants in coke like talc or cornstarch are abrasive to nasal tissues. Continued use commonly results in respiratory issues as well as cellular damage cumulative over months or years.
The good news is treatments exist to address coke nose. That said, prevention through abstaining from cocaine is the best option.
Coke Damages Nasal Structures
The nose is uniquely designed to filter, warm, and moisten air entering the lungs. Its internal nasal structures include delicate mucous membranes, sinus cavities, and the nasal septum – the partition dividing left and right nostrils. Cocaine’s insufflation constricts blood vessels while numbing nasal tissues, bypassing the body’s protective gag reflex.
With time, coke’s corrosive properties inflame and erode the septum’s cartilage support beams. It also scars mucosa and cilia, microscopic hairs that sweep debris and pathogens from the nose. As coke destroys this defense mechanism, it leaves nasal cavities susceptible to infections and further assaults to fragile tissues when insufflating coke.
Common Signs of Coke Nose Damage
Individuals experiencing coke nose may deal with persistent symptoms interfering with daily life, including:
- Chronic nasal and/or sinus congestion that amplifies existing allergies or illnesses.
- Frequent nosebleeds due to fragile, inflamed tissues and septal perforations.
- Loss of smell (anosmia), whether partial or total.
- Visible saddle nose deformity and denting of the nasal bridge over time.
- Nasal airway obstruction causing mouth breathing or difficulty exercising/sleeping.
- Nasal speech from long-term use causes anatomical changes.
Treating and Reversing Coke Nose
Seeking drug addiction help with counseling addresses coke nose’s underlying causes and relieves issues it creates. Treatment emphasizes abstaining from further cocaine use to avoid additional harm and allowing tissues to rest and heal.
For some, nose jobs may repair cosmetic damage, but cannot fully reverse scarring from chronic inflammation. Options include:
- Nasal irrigation to flush out irritants and reduce swelling/congestion.
- Antibiotic lozenges for antibiotic nasal infections.
- Surgery such as septoplasty to reconstruct deviated septums.
- Following ups to monitor healing and ensure no new damage develops.
Prioritizing Health over Getting High
While coke may provide temporary exhilaration, habitual use degrades nasal health in ways that diminish quality of life. By understanding coke nose’s mechanisms and seeking help for addiction, people can protect their well-being. For concerned loved ones, showing support and/or enrolling them in a medically-supervised treatment program optimizes health outcomes. Experts at leading centers guide individuals through detox safely and provide science-backed therapies addressing co-occurring disorders and relapse triggers. With care and healing time, heavy coke users may recover their nasal functions and avoid further issues down the road.