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Cocaine intoxication


Definition:

Cocaine is an illegal stimulant drug that affects your central nervous system. It produces a sense of extreme joy by causing the brain to release higher than normal amounts of some biochemicals. However, cocaine's effects on other parts of the body can be very serious or even deadly.

See also:

Alternative Names:

Intoxication - cocaine

Causes, incidence, and risk factors:

Cocaine intoxication may be caused by:

  • Taking too much cocaine, or too concentrated a form of cocaine
  • Using cocaine on hot weather days, which leads to more harm and side effects because of dehydration
  • Using cocaine with certain other drugs
  • Severe intoxication and death can occur in "drug mules" or "body packers" who intentionally swallow packets of cocaine
Symptoms:

Symptoms of cocaine intoxication include:

  • Agitation
  • Enlarged pupils
  • Feeling of being "high" (euphoria),
  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure

With higher doses, sweating, tremors, confusion, hyperactivity, seizures, stroke, irregular heart beats, and sudden death can occur.

Treatment:

The health care provider will m easure and monitor the patient's vital signs, including temperature, pulse, breathing rate, and blood pressure.

Symptoms will be treated as appropriate. A class of medications called benzodiazepines are given to calm a rapid heart beat and lower blood pressure. The medicines include diazepam and lorazepam.

Long-term treatment requires drug counseling in combination with medical therapy.

References:

Perrone J, Hoffman RS. Cocaine, amphetamines, caffeine, and nicotine. In: Tintinalli JE, Kelen GD, Stapczynski JS, Ma OJ, Cline DM, eds. Emergency Medicine: A Comprehensive Study Guide. 6th ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill; 2004:chap 168.


Review Date: 6/17/2011
Reviewed By: Eric Perez, MD, Department of Emergency Medicine, St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center, New York, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. Copyright 2002 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

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