Nosebleeds may be scary, but they rarely indicate a serious medical problem. The nose contains many blood vessels, which are located close to the surface, and they’re very fragile and bleed easily.
The medical name for a nosebleed is epistaxis, and nosebleeds are common in adults and children between the ages of 3 and 10 years.
During a nosebleed, blood flows from one or both nostrils and can be heavy or light. It may also last from a few seconds to 10 minutes or more.
There are two kinds of nosebleeds:
- anterior nosebleed, which occurs when the blood vessels in the front of the nose break and bleed.
- Posterior nosebleed, which occurs in the back or the deepest part of the nose, when blood flows down the back of the throat. Posterior nosebleeds can be hazardous.
Causes Of Nosebleeds
There are many causes of nosebleeds, and an infrequent nosebleed is rarely serious. However, if you have frequent nosebleeds, you could have a more serious problem.
- Dry air is the most public cause of nosebleeds. Living in a dry climate and using a central heating system can dry out the tissues inside the nose. This dryness causes crusting inside the nose, and crusting may itch or become irritated and can bleed if your nose is scratched or picked.
- Taking antihistamines and decongestants for allergies, colds, or sinus problems can also dry out the tissues inside the nose (nasal membranes) and cause nosebleeds.
- Frequent nose blowing is another cause of nosebleeds.
- a foreign object stuck in the nose can cause nosebleeds
- picking the nose, and
- upper respiratory infection can all cause nosebleed
Other causes of nosebleeds include:
- high blood pressure
- chemical irritants
- allergic reaction
- bleeding disorders
- injury to the nose
- repeated sneezing
- blood clotting disorders, and
Most epistaxes don’t require medical attention, however, you should seek medical attention if your nosebleed lasts longer than 20 minutes, or if it occurs after a trauma or an injury, as that may be a sign of a posterior nosebleed, which is more serious.
Injuries that might cause a nosebleed includes:
- a fall,
- a car accident,
- A punch or kick in the face.
Epistaxis that occurs after an injury may indicate a broken nose, skull fracture, or internal bleeding.
Nosebleeds can also be the result of minor irritation or a cold. Nosebleeds are common in children aged 3 to 10, and cold air and nose picking cause most cases in kids. However, there is no known cause for a nosebleed sometimes, and that is the mystery behind nosebleeding.
When a Nosebleed Is Something More
Nosebleeds, especially repeated nosebleeds, may be a symptom of a more serious condition like tumors of the sinuses or nose. High blood pressure does not cause nosebleeds, according to the American College of Emergency Physicians, but it can prolong the bleeding.
Some types of bleeding disorders can also prolong bleeding during a nosebleed, and some types of topical nasal medications, including corticosteroids and antihistamines, may sometimes lead to nosebleeds.
Furthermore, medications like blood thinners, such as clopidogrel (Plavix), warfarin (Coumadin), nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and aspirin, used to stop the formation of dangerous blood clots can result in epistaxis.
Certain medical problems, such as liver or kidney disease, chronic alcohol abuse, platelet disorders, and inherited clotting disorders can lead to epistaxis. Malformed blood vessels in the nose and nasal tumors are rare causes of nose bleeding, and nasal or sinus surgery can also cause nose bleeding.
Generally, most nosebleeds are nothing to worry about, but some cases of epistaxis are cause for concern. Frequent nosebleeds occur more than once a week and may be a sign of a problem.
How to identify Serious Cases of Epistaxis
Seek professional medical attention right away if you observe the following:
- Bleeding does not stop after 20 minutes
- Nose bleeding is the result of a head injury. This could suggest that a skull fracture has occurred
- You think your nose may be broken or if your nose takes on an odd shape after an injury to the nose.
- You suffer repeated nosebleeds, and
- Your nosebleed episodes are not associated with a cold or other minor irritation
How To Treat A Nosebleed
Treatment for nosebleeds usually depends on the type and cause of the nosebleed. Follow these steps to stop a nosebleed:
- sit down and firmly pinch the soft part of your nose, just above your nostrils,
- hold for at least 10-15 minutes
- lean forward and breathe through your mouth in order to drain blood down your nose instead of down the back of your throat
- place an ice pack or cold towel on the bridge of your nose
- stay upright, rather than lying down, to reduce the blood pressure in the blood vessels of your nose and to discourage further bleeding
If the bleeding eventually stops, you won’t usually need to seek medical advice. However, in some cases, you may need further treatment from your doctor or a specialist.
If you have an anterior epistaxis, you bleed from the front of your nose, usually a nostril.
Don’t lie down when trying to stop a nosebleed, since lying down can result in swallowing blood and can aggravate your stomach.
As stated already, you can apply a cold compress over the bridge of your nose or use a nasal spray decongestant to close off the small blood vessels.
See your doctor immediately if you’re unable to stop a nosebleed on your own, as that might be a sign that you might have a posterior nosebleed that requires more invasive treatment.
Treatment for nosebleeds usually involves applying pressure to stop the bleeding, but rolling a silver nitrate stick in the affected nostril can also help.
The doctor may insert gauze or cotton into your nose, a procedure known as a nasal packing, but if the doctor can see the source of your bleeding, the doctor may use a silver nitrate chemical or heat to seal the blood vessel.
Surgical options for epistaxis include arterial ligation to tie off the vessel and embolization to place material inside a vessel to prevent blood from flowing through it.
If you or someone you know suffers from frequent or prolonged nosebleeds, or are experiencing bleeding from the nose after head trauma, you need professional medical care.
How To Prevent Nosebleeds
You can’t always prevent nosebleeds from happening, and you can do the following to help lower your chances of getting them:
- Keep the inside of your nose moist, since dryness can cause nosebleeds. Use a cotton swab to gently smear a thin layer of petroleum jelly in your nostrils, including before you go to bed. You can also use an antibiotic ointment instead of petroleum jelly.
- Use a saline nasal product. Spraying it in your nostrils helps keep the inside of your nose moist.
- Use a humidifier in your home. Your nostrils might be dry because the air in your house is dry, but a humidifier will help take care of that.
- Don’t smoke, because, smoking can irritate the inside of your nose and dry it out.
- Don’t pick your nose, and don’t blow or rub it too hard.
- If your child is having nosebleeds, keep his fingernails short and discourage him from picking his nose.
- Don’t overuse cold and allergy medications. They can dry out your nose. In some cases, some of these medications can cause nosebleeds or make them worse.
- Discuss your medications with your doctor to find it if they might be causing your nose bleeding. But keep taking them unless your doctor tells you otherwise.
- wear a head guard during activities in which your nose or head could get injured
- Always follow the instructions that come with nasal decongestants. overusing these sprays can cause nosebleeds
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Nosebleeds are common and not usually serious. Most nosebleeds are anterior nosebleeds and can often be treated at home. Anterior nosebleeds usually occur suddenly and don’t last long.
They result from many causes, like dry air and repeated scratching or picking of the nose. You should call your doctor immediately if you can’t stop the bleeding from your anterior nosebleed.
A posterior nosebleed can be more serious, and you should contact your doctor immediately or go to the ER if you think you might have a posterior nosebleed.
Finally, remember that keeping the air humidified in your home, avoiding picking your nose, and using nasal mists to keep your nasal passages moist are good ways to help prevent nosebleeds.