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Bleeding from Nose (Epistaxis)

What causes nosebleeds?

Think about the human face. You will see that the nose protrudes out from the face and is actually rather vulnerable to injuries. A trauma on the face can cause injury to the nose and result in nosebleed (medically called epitaxis). Depending on the site and the extent of injury, this bleeding can be minor or major. Nosebleeds can occur on their own as well without an outside injury. It can also happen if the nasal membrane becomes overly dry and cracks open letting out blood.

As a matter of fact, such nosebleeds  are extremely common in very dry climates whether summer or winter. Plus, if a person is on anticoagulant or blood thinning medicine such as warfarin or aspirin or anti-inflammatory drugs, even minor traumas can result in heavy nosebleeds.

Nosebleeds can happen more among people with:

  • Infection  i.e. rhinosinusitis
  • Allergic and non-allergic rhinitis
  • Use of blood thinning drugs
  • Trauma that can also be self-inflicted through actions such as nose picking. This is commoner in children.
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Pregnant women undergoing hormonal changes
  • In rare cases, nosebleeds can be due to tumours or inherited bleeding disorders.

Actually tackling a common nosebleed is easy and does not require help from a doctor. Of course, you should know the correct first-aid steps which we are outlining below:

  • Use your index finger and thumb to pinch together the soft part of the nose.
  • Compress the pinched part of the nose towards the face bones.
  • Lean forward a bit and tilt the head forward as well. This will stop blood from running back into sinuses and throat which can lead to gagging or inhalation of blood.
  • Keep on holding the pinched nose for minimum 5 minutes. Repeat the entire process until nosebleed stops.
  • Keep the head higher than the level of the heart. Do not lie down. Do not put your head between your legs. Just sit quietly.
  • Wrap some ice in towel and place it on cheeks and nose.

If the problem recurs, visit your ENT physician for a check up.

While most nosebleeds are the common type and can be handled at home, you need to watch out for the following symptoms and rush to the hospital immediately:

  • If the bleeding is unstoppable or keeps happening again and again.
  • If the bleeding is heavy and the blood loss seems considerable.
  • If the patient is feeling faint or weak.
  • If the nosebleed is happening due to facial trauma, or is accompanied by loss of consciousness or blurred vision.
  • If the nosebleed is occurring with fever or headache.
  • Last but not the least, if your infant or toddler gets a nosebleed, visit your paediatrician.

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