Nasal Septal Perforation
When former Eastenders actress, Daniella Westbrook, was photographed at the British Soap Awards in 2000 with her septum eroded from excessive coke-snorting, she not only became the poster girl for the ravages of cocaine, but also brought nasal septal perforation into the limelight. The septum, composed of cartilage and thin bone, can develop a hole in the cartilage, not only through cocaine use, but also as a complication of previous nasal surgery, excessive nose picking, trauma, cancer, or diseases such as tuberculosis or syphilis. As damage reduces blood supply in the septum, the cartilage begins to die, and a hole develops. Many septal perforations don’t need to be closed, and small perforations may need only frequent rinsing with prescription saltwater solutions and applying lubricating gels. Septal ‘buttons’ can also be inserted to fit the hole, which can be an alternative to surgery. However, there are various surgical techniques available for larger perforations, which can be performed under general anesthesia.
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