Contributed by- Dr. Pooja Chaudhary
Bleeding nose can unquestionably be scary and can easily make anyone anxious about their health. Though, nose bleeds are common (especially in winters) it terrifies us all. Although nose bleeds rarely indicate any serious health problems, it can still make us confused and fill our heads with various questions like:
- What really causes a nose bleed?
- Is it stress? Is it allergy?
- Is nose bleed an indicator of some serious medical problem?
Let us clear doubts and get all the answers about nose bleeding.
What is nose bleeding?
The medical term for nose bleed is ‘Epistaxis’. Nose contains a large number of tiny blood vessels, located close to the surface in the front and back of the nose. These blood vessels are very delicate and any trauma to the nose can cause them to bleed. Nose bleeds are of two kinds:
- Anterior nose bleed: When the blood vessels in the front of the nose breaks and bleeds. 90% of the nose bleeds are anterior, easy to control and can generally be treated at home.
- Posterior nose bleed : When an artery breaks in the back or the deepest part of the nose. It is less common and usually affects older people, needs immediate medical attention.
Children (between the age group of 3 and 10) and older people are more susceptible to nose bleeds. Frequent nose bleeds are alarming and can indicate some serious health problem.
Causes of nose bleeding
The two most common causes of nose bleeds:
- Dry air – It is most common in winters, as the air lacks moisture and is too dry. Because of the dryness that the weather brings nasal membranes dry out and they become more vulnerable to bleeding and infections.
- Nose picking– Can cause irritation and rupture the soft skin of the nose leading to nose bleeds.
Apart from these the other common factors of nosebleeds include:
- Common cold and frequent nose-blowing
- High altitude
- Trauma due an accident or direct blow to the nose
- Liver disease can interfere with blood clotting and result in frequent and/or severe nosebleeds
- Hypertension: In some rare cases, when there is a sudden, rapid increase in blood pressure it leads to nose bleeding.
- Foreign body in the nose like toys / eraser etc.
- Calcium deficiency
- Use of blood thinners (anticoagulants)
- Vitamin deficiencies can weaken blood vessels making them more susceptible to ruptures
- Nasal sprays that are used to treat allergies
- Hemophilia and other bleeding disorders
- Chemical irritants such as ammonia
- Cocaine use
- Deviated septum
- Non-allergic rhinitis causes chronic sneezing, congestion or runny nose
Some of the less common factors include:
- Use of Alcohol
- Nasal polyps
- Nasal surgery
- Nasal tumour
- Second trimester of pregnancy
- Hereditary haemorrhagic telangiectasia is genetic disorder that affects blood vessels
- Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP) ( the unusual low levels of platelets — the cells that help blood clot causes bleeding)
- Leukemia (cancer of blood or bone marrow)
How to stop nose bleed?
First aid is the most important help that a person with a nose bleed needs. Nose bleeds are not a cause of panic and can easily be treated at home.
- Try to stay calm or don’t panic
- Don’t lie down. Sit straight, keep the head above the heart
- Lean a little bit forward, this will help in keeping the blood draining down the back of the throat
- Close your nose using your thumb and index finger for 5-10 minutes and breathe from the mouth
- Alternatively, apply ice or pinch the bridge of the nose
Note: Once your bleeding is under control, then make sure not to touch or blow your nose. If the nose starts bleeding again, then watchfully blow out any blood clots. If the bleeding continues, seek medical help immediately.
When should we consult a doctor for nose bleeding?
A sudden or an infrequent nose bleed is not something to worry about. But if you experience frequent nose bleeds then it can be indicative of a serious problem. An emergency medical care or attention is required when:
- Bleeding lasts longer than 30 minutes even after compression
- Patient faints or feels light headed
- It involves a greater than expected amount of blood
- Nose bleeding following an injury such as a car accident
- Bleeding that starts interfering with breathing
- Nose bleeding in children younger than 2 years
- Nose bleeds with clots
How can we prevent nose bleeding?
Proper treatment with necessary prevention is extremely important. It is not always possible to prevent nose bleed but there are certain measures that can be taken to lower the chances of bleeding:
- Keep the inside of nose moist as excessive drying, specially in the cold weather conditions, causes nose to bleed. Nose can be kept moist by applying a thin layer of petroleum jelly on the inside of the nose, 3 times a day
- Using saline nasal spray as this helps in keeping the inside of nose moist most of the time
- Make use of humidifier as the air in the house can be dry and act as a causing factor for nose bleeds, humidifier helps keeping it moist
- Avoid picking your nose
- Avoid smoking as it can irritate the inside of the nose and lead to bleeding
Now that you know how to deal with a bleeding nose, stay calm and act fast.
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