This leaflet answers common questions about sinus and nasal disease after cocaine use. If you would like further information, or have any worries, please do not hesitate to ask your nurse or doctor.
What is sinus and nasal disease?
Conditions that affect the sinuses of the face and the nose can cause several symptoms and are often treated by GPs, or specialists such as ENT doctors. They may be allergic, infectious, or immune driven and may require different sort of treatments.
- Blocked nose.
- Nasal septum damage.
- Facial pain.
- Nose bleeds.
- Nasal crusts.
- Change in hearing.
Cocaine use and sinus and nasal disease
We screen all our patients with disease in the nose with a wide variety of tests, including cocaine use, as routine. This enables us to give the best advice on suitable treatment. Standard treatment for vasculitis is usually not helpful unless cocaine use is stopped.
How does cocaine use affect your health?
Cocaine use can affect specific areas in your body, such as the nose, mouth, or throat. Long-term cocaine use can cause permanent damage to these areas, for example to the nose. This is because cocaine narrows blood vessels and reduces the blood supply to the affected parts.
In some cases, cocaine makes the immune system overactive often because of the things mixed in with it and can trigger a condition called vasculitis. This can lead to other damage to the nose, skin, kidneys, lungs, or nerves.
What should I do about my cocaine use?
Not everyone who uses cocaine gets these conditions. We are not sure why some people do, and others don’t. In those who develop these problems the best and only successful treatment we have found is stopping the use of cocaine.
While certain treatments work for patients with vasculitis (such as steroids) they tend to not work well if cocaine use continues. Importantly, these treatments can also have serious side effects such as infections because they weaken the immune system.
Other treatments such as surgery also don’t work as well if there is ongoing cocaine use, as it makes it harder for the healing process to take place afterwards.
Our studies have clearly shown the importance of stopping cocaine use. Only those who have stopped using cocaine seem to have got better. Those who continue to use it often have ongoing symptoms.
What support is available?
Overcoming drug addiction can be challenging but help and support are available. There are many local and national organisations that offer support. Start with the NHS website:
Your GP or specialist may also be able to point you in the right direction to get started, please talk to them. There are also local support groups, counselling services, and rehabilitation centres that can provide the necessary tools and support to make it easier to quit cocaine use and stay off it.
We are happy to help with strategies to stop cocaine use and have addiction councillors that can provide specialised support. Let us know if you want help.