Risks of Cocaine Perforated Septum
What Cocaine Can Do To Your Nose? Why is Cocaine Harmful to the Nose? Symptoms of a Deviated Septum from Cocaine.
What Cocaine Can Do To Your Nose?
One of the most significant long-term effects of snorting cocaine is the damage to the nose. A septal perforation or a “cocaine septum hole” is a condition that is commonly caused by sniffing or snorting cocaine through the nose.
What are the Causes of a Cocaine Septum Hole?
The nose has a fragile blood supply, which is shut off by cocaine use. This process is called vasoconstriction (closing off of blood vessels). When the blood vessels constrict, the blood supply is compromised, delivering less oxygen to the tissues of the septum. With low oxygen, the septum lining starts to die. Once the lining dies, it can no longer support the cartilage underneath it, and the cartilage dies. This is called a septal perforation or hole in the septum also referred to as a Cocaine Septum Hole. Once the septum is perforated, the nose can collapse because the septum is the structural support of the nose.
Cocaine deviated septum warning signs
Typically, the cocaine user will have early signs that a septal perforation may be imminent but may be unaware of the immediate danger, because, early signs often mimic other benign nasal conditions such as; simple nosebleeds, nasal congestion, increase in nasal discharge (rhinorrhea), sinus infection, and common allergy symptoms. Although many cocaine users are clearly aware when they have a “full-blown” septal perforation, many miss the window of opportunity to reverse early damage before it leads to a septal perforation. A surgeon who specializes in septal perforations is the only specialist who can diagnose an imminent septal perforation and help to prevent its occurrence. Once a septal perforation is present it will never heal on its own.
Why is Cocaine Harmful to the Nose?
Cocaine can be taken in a variety of different ways, including injection, smoking, and snorting (insufflation), but the third method is much more popular than the others. This may be due in part to the population of casual coke users — people tend to use cocaine on a whim at parties or buy it to have a good time on the weekend. Smoking or injecting the drug takes a more concrete commitment, which doesn’t hold with the casual nature of snorting coke.
Snorting cocaine (and other drugs) has proven to be an effective way to experience a quick onset of the effects. The nasal passages are lined with blood vessels and are home to mucous membranes that aid in the absorption of cocaine into the bloodstream. This is also why opioid pain medications and other drugs may be crushed up and taken in the same manner.
With cocaine, the substance quickly enters the bloodstream, causes the blood vessels to contract, stimulates the brain, and prompts the release of dopamine, which is responsible for the euphoric feelings that make cocaine high a sought-after experience for users. Most people know that long-term cocaine use can have lasting effects on the brain, but what about in the short term? As it turns out, it doesn’t take long for the nose to be at risk.
Cocaine Nasal Perforation
Recreational use of cocaine has become a common form of drug abuse in the United States. Although cocaine can be administered through a variety of routes, the intranasal route is the most common. This preference for insufflation exposes the nasal mucosa to the intense vasoconstrictive effects of cocaine and the myriad of caustic additives with which it is often mixed, thus causing varying degrees of damage to the nasal tract. These adverse effects were first recognized by Owens in 1912 and range from a pinhole perforation to different degrees of mucosal ulceration, destruction of septal cartilage, and in extreme cases, destruction of nasal and maxillary bones.
Indications of Deviated Septum Cocaine
Repeated constriction of the blood vessels of the nasal mucosa leads to soft-tissue and osteocartilaginous necrosis. The exposed septum may soon become infected, and if left untreated, the ensuing chondritis causes a septal perforation of varying size. With each repeated cocaine insufflation, this perforation expands. The perforated septum loses its supportive function and subsequently the nose collapses, retracts, and becomes shorter.
Deviated Septum From Cocaine
Chronic nasal inhalation of either cocaine or methamphetamine (meth) can lead to the misalignment of the nasal septum. When considering a deviated septum, the most common symptom people experience is a congested nose and the associated breathing problems that come with that. The severity of these breathing problems can range from causing a light annoyance to causing significant disruption in everyday quality of life. You don’t have to live with these breathing difficulties, however.
What is a Deviated Septum?
A deviated septum refers to a misalignment of the bony or cartilage-containing structures that separate either side of the nasal cavity. Septal deviation can arise in conjunction with a number of pathologies including chronic inflammation and perforation.
The septum is the bridge in the center of the nose that divides the nasal cavity in half to create two nostrils. In those with a deviated septum, one nostril is wider than the other.
A deviated septum is more common than one would think. In fact, approximately 80% of people have some sort of alignment problem that affects the positioning of their septum. However, most individuals do not realize they have this misalignment until they experience noticeable breathing problems.
How Cocaine Cause Deviated Septums?
Repeated irritation to the cartilage and lining of the nose results in an increased risk of a deviated septum. This is why frequent cocaine use through snorting can cause this type of injury. Sometimes the condition may go away on its own—especially if drug use ceases right away. If not, continued use will just make the situation worse. If you are one of these individuals who continues cocaine or meth use, you may suffer from breathing problems or lose your ability to smell. It may become so severe that surgery is required.
Symptoms of a Deviated Septum from Cocaine
Nasal congestion is the most common symptom of a deviated septum. One nostril is typically more congested than the other. The range of symptoms for a deviated septum includes:
- Stuffy nose
- Difficulty sleeping
- Difficulty breathing through the nose
- Recurrent sinus infections
- Crusty or dry nasal passages
- Loud snoring
- Postnasal drip
- Facial pain
If a cocaine septum hole is present, some people may even hear a whistling sound when air passes through the perforated septum. Since a perforated septum is otherwise uncommon, its presence may strongly indicate inhaled drug use.
Treatment for a Deviated Septum from Cocaine
The standard treatment for a deviated septum is surgical. However, the best preventative and maintenance therapy is eliminating the primary cause of your deviated septum—chronic cocaine use.
Deviated Septum Surgery
People who are experiencing severe discomfort from a deviated septum can typically fix the problem with surgery. The procedure is called “septoplasty” and involves trimming, repositioning, and substituting nasal bone and cartilage. Septoplasty has been reported as having a success rate of 89%—where patients experienced significantly decreased nasal symptoms as a result of the surgery.
What You Should Know About Septoplasty
Here are some things you should know if you are considering septoplasty to treat your deviated nasal septum:
- The surgery takes about 60-90 minutes, and you will most likely go home the same day.
- You may experience drainage or swelling for several days after the surgery.
- Some individuals have septoplasty in combination with rhinoplasty (to fix the nose’s appearance) or with sinus surgery (to repair associated sinus problems).
- Errant cartilage or a bone blocking the airway is repositioned or removed.
- Risks of septoplasty include infection, bleeding, breathing problems, scarring, or recurrent nasal blockage.
- Packing material or splints may be used inside the nose to prevent nosebleeds and keep the septum and mucous membrane in place.
- Packing material is usually taken out 24-36 hours after surgery.
- For best results, septoplasty should be performed after age 15, when the nose has stopped growing. This could be even later in boys.
- For minor cases, balloon septoplasty (using an inflatable catheter to open up the collapsed nasal/sinus passage) can be done in an office setting without actually having to perform surgery.
Treating the Underlying Cocaine Addiction
Cocaine use can cause many health problems, and these problems go far beyond those of the cocaine perforated septum. A deviated septum can be just one physical sign of a larger issue—that of chronic cocaine abuse. Furthermore, a perforated septum is highly likely to return if the cocaine abuse persists. To prevent this inevitability, the underlying cocaine addiction will need to be managed. Otherwise, you could be back in the same situation in the near future.
First and foremost, if you think that a loved one is abusing cocaine, you should first research the drug and addiction associated with it so that you can better understand what your loved one needs. Next, you must plan an intervention to provide your loved ones with options to battle their addiction in a safe and supportive environment. During this intervention, make sure that you offer compassion and support instead of judgment.
Lastly, offer your support throughout the entire treatment process. In addition, prolonged Cocaine use can have severe physical and psychological effects, so it is essential to seek treatment as soon as possible. Inpatient drug rehab offers intensive care that can help you get through the early stages of withdrawal promptly. Cocaine and erectile dysfunction are closely related and the best way to prevent permanent sexual damage is to stop using cocaine.
Detox is often considered the first stage of treatment. It will help you navigate the complicated process of withdrawal, but it doesn’t address patterns of thought and behavior that contribute to drug use. Various treatment approaches and settings can help provide the ongoing support necessary to maintain long-term sobriety after you complete detox.
Cravings are very common during detox and can be challenging to overcome. This often leads to relapse. Constant medical care provided during inpatient treatment helps prevent relapse. Clinicians can provide necessary medication and medical expertise to lessen cravings and the effects of withdrawals.
Several different modalities of psychotherapy have been used in the treatment of mental health disorders along with addiction, including:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – is an effective treatment that involves making changes in both the patterns of negative thoughts and the behavioral routines which are affecting the daily life of the depressed person for various forms of depression.
- Dialectical Behavioral Therapy – is a comprehensive mental health and substance abuse treatment program whose ultimate goal is to aid patients in their efforts to build a life worth living. The main goal of DBT is to help a person develop what is referred to as a “clear mind.”
- Person-Centered Therapy – is a strategy that allows and encourages clients to understand and resolve their concerns in a safe, supportive environment.
- Solution Focused Therapy – is an approach interested in solutions that can be quickly implemented with a simple first step leading to further positive consequences.
Dual Diagnosis Treatment
Drug abuse and mental health disorders often co-occur. In many cases, traumatic experiences can result in a mental health disorder and substance abuse. Dual diagnosis rehabilitation treats both of these issues together. The best approach for the treatment of dual diagnosis is an integrated system. In this strategy, both the substance abuse problem and the mental disorder are treated simultaneously. Regardless of which diagnosis (mental health or substance abuse problem) came first, long-term recovery will depend largely on the treatment for both disorders done by the same team or provider.
Medication-Assisted Treatments (MAT) for substance use disorders and mental health disorders are commonly used in conjunction with one another. This includes the use of medications and other medical procedures. During your rehab, the staff from your treatment facility will help you identify what caused your addiction and teach you skills that will help you change your behavior patterns and challenge the negative thoughts that led to your addiction. Sometimes, the pressures and problems in your life lead you to rely on substances to help you forget about them momentarily.
Please, do not try to detox on your own. The detox process can be painful and difficult without medical assistance. However, getting through the detox process is crucial for continued treatment. We Level Up provide proper care with round-the-clock medical staff to medically assist your recovery. So, reclaim your life, and call us to speak with one of our treatment specialists. Our counselors know what you are going through and will answer any of your questions.