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gggritso's avatar

How harmful is snorting a powder?

Asked by gggritso (5448points) May 15th, 2010

Yesterday, we were considering paying one of our friends $50 to snort a line of Nesquik chocolate milk powder. We didn’t do it of course, but it got me thinking.

Given that the powder is not a harmful substance in itself, what kind of effect does the physical act of snorting a powder have?

I imagine that inhaling any kind of powder has negative effects to the nasal lining and membranes. Does this depend on the size of the particles? How severe can the effects be? How good is the nasal lining at cleaning itself?

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11 Answers

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

It depends on what the powder is. I actually have a prescription medication that is in powder form and is inhaled through a special device. I got this after my last bout of upper respiratory infection.

filmfann's avatar

I snorted a line of sugar in a coffee shop years ago, and yes it did burn for a few days.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Depends on the powdered substance. Some things are meant to be disolved by stomach acids and have chemical buffers added to aid in time release so mashing these all up and snorting them might give the nasal and esophagal linings chemical burns.

jazmina88's avatar

stick to the good stuff….it will kill ya. people snort pills all the time.

I dont have much of a nose left because of the 80s. It’s not a smart thing to do.

marinelife's avatar

“Other dangers with this behavior are that it could damage irritation to the throat, nose and even lungs. These are not life threatening injuries; however continued use could cause long term damage. Other dangers include chronic coughing and a version of smoker’s cough.

Oren Friedman, a Mayo Clinic nose specialist cautions, “Frequent use could lead to infections or even worse, albeit rare, conditions, such as maggots that feed on sugary dust wedged inside the nose.””


lillycoyote's avatar

I wouldn’t do it, the nasal mucous membranes are very sensitive and can be damaged very easily. Maybe not permanently, but just the same, in will most likely cause injury and discomfort like @filmfann experienced with his little sugar snorting adventure. I bet he never did that again.

gggritso's avatar

Interesting (and somewhat disgusting)! What about particle size? Is it possible to physically scratch the nasal lining if the crystals are large enough?

anartist's avatar

Depends on the individual. Some asthma bronchial medications are inhaled powders . . . not snorted but breathed in through the mouth more like taking a looong toke. When I was sick with an allergic bronchial infection and could not breathe they were giving me pure oxygen then stopped to have me pull on a hit off an Advair flying saucer. It dispenses dry particles. Immediately I could not breathe again. They wanted me to use one of those but I never could stand the particulate. Finally advair came out with an inhaler that dispenses a mist and I can handle it.

dynamic3's avatar

One of the problems would be the change in osmotic pressure, the cells would become hypertonic causing water to rush out of the cells resulting in cell death. Obviously the nose may have some defence against this but it would entirely depend on the size of the line, and whether you paid him another $50 to do it again.

buster's avatar

If you snorted a line of nesquick one time you might get your sinuses stopped up for a while and taste chocolate flavored loogeys and drains. Maybe a little blood in your snot if your sinuses are already irritated. Not really much a health hazard there since that one line will probably be the one and only you ever do.

This is what happened to me and other people I know. Snorting coke, meth, or pills once or regularly can possibly make your nose bleed, cause infections and ulcers in your sinus cavities, throat, and back of tongue. Its drips down the back of your throat and mouth irritating and causing raw bumps and ulcers. Sinus infections are common especially after snorting or inhaling large quantities of drugs or dust. After snorting a bunch of cocaine I usually woke up with a killer sinus headache, totally stopped up with really nasty yellow snot sometimes with blood in it. Larger quantities of powdered cocaine are inhaled by users generally than users of other nasal drugs. Its made by barefoot peasants stomping it barefoot in the jungle. No telling what bugs are in that shit! Extended prolonged use will eat large holes in your sinuses and nasal septum even to the point of your nose collapsing into your face. I have a small hole in one side of my septum that is not noticeable and causes me no problems. Also the drainage of coke and meth from your sinuses to throat ends up in your mouth on your teeth is acidic and can eat away at your teeth. Fortunately I never got the very ugly condition known as meth mouth.

Not wearing a dust mask doing dusty jobs like cutting bricks, concrete, sanding drywall, and other dusty jobs will do all the above also. Some of those dust contain silicates and fibers which actually lodge in the sinuses. If you do drugs the best advice I can give is no pills, no powders, if it grows from the ground its okay.

JeffVader's avatar

We once tricked a lad into snorting salt…. he thought it was blow, his nose basically exploded in blood, was rather gross.

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