The nose allows us to inhale and exhale. This external part of the respiratory system is lined by blood vessels. An injury or a pressure difference in the atmosphere can cause these vessels to rupture, causing a nosebleed.
Nosebleed or epistaxis, meaning bleeding from the nose, is usually not a cause of concern. All of us may experience it at least once in our lifetime.
Nosebleeds are quite common in children aged between 3 and 10. Frequent nosebleeds occur due to changes in climate or altitude.
Types of nosebleeds
There are two types of nosebleeds – anterior and posterior, based on the site from where the bleeding starts.
Anterior nosebleeds (Anterior epistaxis): This usually starts at the front of the nose towards the lower part of the nasal septum (the thin wall that separates the nostrils and sides of the nose). Since the blood vessels and capillaries in this part of the nose are fragile, they can break and bleed very easily. This type of nosebleed is the most common one, rarely serious and can be easily managed at home.
Posterior nosebleeds (Posterior epistaxis): This occurs deeper inside the nose and is often caused by an injury to a larger blood vessel at the back of the nose, near the throat. Due to its location and cause, posterior nosebleeds are usually more serious than anterior epistaxis. Heavy posterior nosebleeds can drip down the throat and require immediate medical attention.
What are the indications of a nosebleed?
Nosebleeds can be light or heavy. The blood is either seen oozing from one or both nostrils or dries up in the nose itself.
While light nosebleeds usually resolve on its own, heavy epistaxis and nosebleeds in kids need medical attention.
Four common signs of nosebleeds to watch out for include:
- Excessive or heavy bleeding
- Irregular heartbeat
- Excessive swallowing of blood following a posterior nosebleed
- Skin begins to turn pale
- Shortness of breath
What causes a nosebleed?
There are many epistaxis causes, though many a times, anterior nose bleeding reasons are unknown.
Four common nosebleed causes of anterior epistaxis are:
- Excessive picking of the nose
- Trauma to the nose such as a blow or knock
- Inflammation of the sinuses
- Excessive blowing of the nose during cold, flu or allergies
Other anterior nosebleed reasons include:
- A dry climate
- Sudden climate change, from cold to warm
- Deviated nasal septum
- Higher altitude
- Excessive use of blood thinners and other medications, including NSAIDs
- Liver disease
- Excessive consumption of Illegal drugs like cocaine
Common posterior epistaxis causes include:
- High blood pressure
- Surgery of the nose
- Calcium deficiency
- Blood diseases like haemophilia
- Exposure to chemicals that irritate the nasal mucous membrane
How are nosebleeds treated?
Nose bleeding treatment depends upon the type of nosebleed and its site.
If you experience nosebleeds frequently, you must get them checked by your doctor.
If the nosebleed is due to trauma or injury, appropriate medical attention should be given, including nasal packaging, cautery and septal surgery, among others.
Home remedies for nosebleeds
The most common home remedies for nose bleeding are:
- Relax and lean forward to prevent the blood from draining into the throat or the sinus.
- Sitting upright reduces the blood flow to the head and neck region. This reduces blood pressure and slows down bleeding.
- Gently pinch the soft part of the nose for at least five minutes to apply pressure on the site of bleeding and allow the blood to clot.
- You can apply an ice pack on the nose and cheek area to reduce the blood flow and provide relief.
- Do not perform any strenuous activity for the next few days.
Nosebleeds can be prevented by simple measures like avoiding picking your nose, use of intranasal lubricants if you feel that the insides of your nose are drying up, avoiding excessive blowing of the nose and use of humidifiers at high altitudes.
If your doctor advises you to undergo tests for diagnosing the cause of your nosebleed, contact SRL Diagnostics for high-quality imaging tests and the most accurate blood tests. Book a test now.