Which physical findings are characteristic of cocaine toxicity?

Updated: Dec 31, 2020
  • Author: Lynn Barkley Burnett, MD, EdD, JD; Chief Editor: Sage W Wiener, MD  more...
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Suspect cocaine use in patients, especially young patients, with any of the following:

  • Altered mental status—particularly agitated delirium, though depressed mental status may occur in cocaine washout syndrome (cocaine withdrawal)
  • New-onset seizure
  • Hypertension
  • Chest pain
  • Myocardial ischemia or infarction
  • Dyspnea
  • Signs of intracranial hemorrhage
  • Epistaxis
  • Psychiatric illness

Pay particular attention to the assessment of vital signs. Perform a detailed examination of the cardiac, pulmonary, and neurologic systems, as listed below.

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