A 38-YEAR-OLD man was left with a gaping hole in the roof of his mouth – after abusing cocaine.
And this gruesome photo reveals the extent of the damage the Class A drug caused him, eating away at soft tissue from the inside out.
Holes in the palate are one of the most extreme side-effects of cocaine abuse[/caption]
The man, who has not been named, arrived at the emergency department with fever-like symptoms and a puffy right eye – according to an article published in BMJ Case Reports.
Medics from Mater Dei Hospital in Malta took him in for examination where they discovered he had drooping eyelids, inflamed eyeballs and conjunctivitis.
However, on further investigation they noticed a huge hole had developed on the arched opening at the back of his mouth – and medics rushed him for a CT scan.
The results showed that his illicit drug use had completely destroyed the roof of his mouth and he had preseptal cellulitis, which is an infection in his eyelids caused by bacteria.
After being given antibiotics for his infection, the cocaine user was deemed fit for discharge and was put in contact with local support groups to help with his drug addiction.
Despite this, the man was brought back to A&E four months later in a life-threatening condition having had a suspected drug overdose.
He had a brain injury and severe damage to his spinal cord and died just days later.
An MRI scan shows the hole in the roof of the patient’s mouth[/caption]
The doctors who carried out the man’s treatment, emphasised that intranasal cocaine abuse is “known to cause erosion of the palate” and nasal tissues.
Cocaine use has doubled in the UK over the past five years, with around one million Brits admitting to taking the drug in the last year.
In particular, more young people are trying the Class A – with 20 per cent of 16-24-year-olds trying it in the last 12 months.
Celebrity dentist Dr Richard Marques told The Sun Online that a hole in the roof of the mouth is a lesser-known side-effect of taking cocaine, but is similar to “coke nose”.
The Harley Street-based dentist said: “With low levels of oxygen, the palate begins to die and shrink away, leaving a hole in the roof of the mouth.”
And a hole between your mouth and nasal cavity is a “serious issue”, Dr Marques warned, affecting drinking, eating and even speech.
With low levels of oxygen, the palate begins to die and shrink away, leaving a hole in the roof of the mouth
Dr Richard Marques
“The most profound and serious consequence is problems drinking – the hole means liquid can travel through the palate and come out the nose.
“While it’s not generally life-threatening, it is embarrassing and unnatural.”
The defect will also mean a person struggles to taste – and eat – their food.
End Of The Line
Cocaine use is reaching epidemic levels in Britain, with the UK branded the ‘Coke capital’ of Europe.
Use has doubled in the last five years, and with young people the numbers are even worse.
A staggering one in five 16-to-24-year-olds have taken cocaine in the last year.
That’s why The Sun has launched its End Of The Line campaign, calling for more awareness around the drug.
Cocaine use can cause mental health problems such as anxiety and paranoia, while doctors have linked the rise in cheap, potent coke to an increase in suicide rates.
People from all walks of life, from builders and labourers to celebrities like Jeremy McConnell – who is backing our campaign – have fallen foul of its lure.
It’s an issue that is sweeping the UK and, unless its tackled now, means a mental health crisis is imminent.
The roof of your mouth contains many of your taste buds, and more serious problems arise if a piece of food gets stuck in the hole.
“Food can end up travelling into the cavity,” Dr Marques said. “It can cause nasty infections because it can go unnoticed.”
Thirdly, the palate is also vital when it comes to speaking.
Sounds like “s”, “t” and “h” become hard to say because they rely on the tongue coming into contact with the roof of the mouth.
Early warning signs
While a hole forming in the palate is an extreme side effect, Dr Marques said people will often ignore the problem, or may not even realise they have one.
“One of the earliest signs something is wrong, is liquid coming out of your nose when you drink,” he said.
“But lots of people won’t seek treatment early one, because they may be embarrassed.
“In other cases it might not even be noticeable to the naked eyes so can be ignored.
Have you or your family been affected by cocaine? Tell us your story by emailing [email protected]
“And obviously, regular drug users may suspect it is as a result of their use of illegal drugs and so won’t want to come forward.”
Treating these holes isn’t easy either, with a specialist surgeon needed.
Dr Marques said dentists are on the front line, and often see the earliest signs of this severe condition.
He warned more and more patients are displaying the nasty dental side effects of taking cocaine, as use surges and society “normalises the drug”.
He said: “It’s a very worrying trend. I am seeing more and more patients who are suffering the side effects.
MORE FROM END OF THE LINE
“Typically, it’s the less serious and earlier warning signs.
“As well as snorting coke, users tend to rub it into their teeth and gums, so some of the earliest signs of abuse can show here.
“Things like black marks and ultimately it can lead to loose teeth, and tooth loss.”
Where to go for help
Helpline open 24/7: 0300 123 6600
For help finding a service or to Instant chat
Help, support and advice for those affected by addiction
Change, Grow, Live
Help for anyone with drug and alcohol issues
Dedicated help for people under 25.
Mental health support line: 0300 304 7000
Action on Addiction
Rehab and community addiction treatment
0300 330 0659
Helpline open 9am-9pm, 7 days a week
0300 888 3853
Help for families affected by drugs and alcohol
We pay for your stories! Do you have a story for The Sun Online news team? Email us at [email protected] or call 0207 782 4368 . You can WhatsApp us on 07810 791 502. We pay for videos too. Click here to upload yours.