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Epistaxis (Nosebleeds): Overview of causes and treatments

  • Posted on- Nov 03, 2016
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Epistaxis (also known as nosebleeds) which can happen at any time, most often occurs when the air suddenly turns cold and dry, especially in the winter season. The source of the nosebleeds usually is in the very front of the nose on the septum where the air entering the nose is at its most dry state. The septum is a wall that divides the right and left nasal cavities. Note that epistaxis is a particular problem in individuals with a deviated septum (correctable by a surgical procedure known as septoplasty) due to turbulent nasal airflow which creates a further drying effect. Sinus infections and allergies may also exacerbate nosebleeds.


Causes of Epistaxis


The nose's job is to warm and moisten the air we breathe. Sometimes, when the air around us is very dry and cold, the nose has to work overtime and can get irritated. Your nose is lined with a bunch of tiny blood vessels that are just under the surface. It doesn't take much force to break through the thin layer of skin to the vessel and cause a nosebleed. Although not exhaustive, the following conditions can cause nosebleeds:


Treatment options for epistaxis


If you are bleeding from the front of your nose, begin by trying the following first-aid measures: 

  • Sit up (so your head is above the level of your heart), lean forward slightly and breathe through your mouth. 

  • With your thumb and index finger, pinch the entire front of your nose (just above your nostrils and below the hard, bony base) and hold for five minutes. 

  • At the same time, use your other hand to apply an ice pack or a plastic bag of crushed ice to the bridge of your nose to slow blood flow. 

  • After you have pinched your nose for five minutes, release it to see if your nose is still bleeding. Keep the ice pack on for another 10 to 15 minutes. 

  • If your nose is still bleeding, pinch it for an additional 10 minutes. 

  • Release your nose again. If you are still bleeding, seek emergency medical help


When simple first aid does not stop a nosebleed, your doctor may treat the problem by:

  • Applying medication directly to the inside of your nose to stop the bleeding 

  • Sealing off (cauterising) the injured blood vessel with a chemical, such as silver nitrate, or with an electric probe 

  • Packing your nose with gauze or a sponge 

  • Using other methods, such as Laser therapy, Embolisation or Surgery 


Outlook for epistaxis 


With a little patience and pressure, almost all uncomplicated anterior nosebleeds respond to simple first-aid measures. Even the rare nosebleed that requires a doctor's care usually can be treated successfully with cauterisation, packing or other options. Even severe posterior nosebleeds can be controlled with appropriate first-aid measures at home. 


Some people who have excessive bleeding, multiple medical problems or who are taking anticoagulant medications may need to be hospitalised for treatment of a nosebleed.

Comments

user profile image
05-12-2017 12:13 PM

Now at the age of 53, I was bending and my nose started bleeding. I bled a lot so I bent my head to release all the blood out. I want to know if there is a cause for this because it has happened twice now.

user profile image
15-01-2017 09:51 PM

My son is 8 and he has occasional nose bleeds, mainly on dry, hot and humid days. Last night, his nose bled for 30 to 45 minutes. He was scared! I wet hand towels in cold water and put them on his neck and the top of his head. Then I put an ice pack on his nose, and it worked!

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