Can Cocaine Cause Nose Bleeds?

 

Nosebleeds are far from rare, albeit a bit alarming to witness, with the sudden arrival of bright red blood trickling out of one’s nostrils.

Most are harmless, likely sparked by dry air or some slight irritation.

They can be a sign of a bigger problem, however, if they’re a bloody nose from coke (cocaine).

Cocaine 101

Cocaine is a stimulant drug derived from the leaves of the coca plant, which is native to South America.

In white powder form, people either sniff it or mix it with water and inject it. People also smoke it after it has been made into rocks, which when heated make a cracking sound — aka crack.

No matter the form, cocaine can very quickly become addictive.

Despite almost having a reputation of being a more posh substance — at least in pop culture — cocaine abuse is a very real and widespread problem. In 2015 there were 1.9 million cocaine users ages 12 and older in the United States. Nearly half of those users — 900,000 — could be legitimately diagnosed as having a substance use disorder.

Cocaine’s Effects

After using cocaine, people usually feel a rush and a burst of energy, like they can do anything. They’ll talk and move quickly. Thoughts race. The heart beats faster. They literally feel hot. Their appetite vanishes, and they sleep very little.

It’s not all joy for all users, however. It can also spark feelings of anger, fear, or restlessness.

Those symptoms can be especially problematic once the buzz wears off. After soaring too high, the lows can wallop a person. Some users will take more to chase that initial euphoria. Others will keep using to escape the crashing depths of withdrawal. Addicts trying to quit cocaine may feel restless, experience nightmares, or be paranoid and suspicious.

Why Does Cocaine Make Your Nose Bleed?

In movies and TV shows viewers may see a character spiraling toward rock bottom. They snort cocaine, and find they’ve got a nosebleed from coke. More than likely, it’s a sign the character needs an intervention or is about to go off the rails.

In real life, a cocaine nose bleed can happen even after a first-time use. It’s just one of the unfortunate side effects of doing blow. Cocaine simply isn’t kind to noses. It also isn’t kind to the heart and mind.

As for the nose, in addition to bleeding, cocaine abuse, especially long-term, can ruin a person’s sense of smell by damaging the nose’s scent receptors. It can make the nose run constantly, too, like a bad cold that never quite goes away.

Continued abuse can also inflame the nasal tissues. Given enough time, the nose and nasal cavity may collapse, and abuse can wear holes in the roof of the mouth. A perforated septum — when tissue that divides both nostrils erodes — can develop. Symptoms of a perforated septum include:

  • Wheezing
  • Crusting or scabbing
  • Feeling like there’s something in the nose
  • Nosebleeds
  • Runny nose
  • Pain
  • Headache
  • A lingering bad smell in the nose

If the problem is mild, saline sprays, humidifiers, or antibiotic ointments may help. If the perforation is larger, a prosthesis may be needed, or even specialized surgery to reconstruct the area, typically using cartilage from the ears or ribs.

Cocaine can cause stomach pains, headaches, and reduce appetite to the point where dangerous amounts of weight is lost. Use of the drug raises blood pressure and makes the heart pound. Too much of that stress can trigger a heart attack or stroke.

Giving Up the Habit

Quitting cocaine may be extremely difficult. The stimulant targets the brain’s reward and pleasure circuits, eventually overriding them so other aspects of life pale in comparison.

Signs of abuse include:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Restlessness
  • High energy
  • Hoarse voice
  • Weight loss
  • Runny nose, nosebleeds
  • Escalating anxiety and depression, paranoia, violence
  • Presence of drug paraphernalia, including mirrors, white powder residue, razor blades, straws, and rolled dollar bills

No matter the addiction, recovery is rarely an easy process. But rehab facilities hold many benefits. Trained and licensed staff can help with the detoxifcation (detox) process, ensuring it is as safe and as comfortable as possible. Behavioral therapists work with their clients to shed light on what led to the substance abuse and what sustained it, as well as how to break past that and achieve sobriety.

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Medical disclaimer:

Sunshine Behavioral Health strives to help people who are facing substance abuse, addiction, mental health disorders, or a combination of these conditions. It does this by providing compassionate care and evidence-based content that addresses health, treatment, and recovery.

Licensed medical professionals review material we publish on our site. The material is not a substitute for qualified medical diagnoses, treatment, or advice. It should not be used to replace the suggestions of your personal physician or other health care professionals.

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