Nosebleed ( Epistaxis )

What is a nosebleed?

A nosebleed occurs when the membranes lining the inner nose are disturbed enough to cause abnormal bleeding. The medical term for nosebleed is epistaxis.

There are 2 types of nosebleeds: anterior and posterior. If the bleeding is near the front of the nose, it is an anterior nosebleed. Most commonly, this is from Little’s area at the front of the nasal septum. If the bleeding is from the back of the nose, it is a posterior nosebleed. An anterior nosebleed is usually not as severe or serious as a posterior nosebleed.

How does it occur?

The most common causes of nosebleed are:

  • A breakdown in the membranes lining the nose. This can be triggered by dry air or probing, bumping, picking, or rubbing your nose. Blowing your nose forcefully can also cause a nosebleed, especially if the nasal membrane is already inflamed because of allergies or an infection, such as a sinus infection.
  • Injury to the face or nose.
  • Rebleeding from an area of a previous nosebleed.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Medicine to keep your blood from clotting.
  • Medical problems that prevent your blood from clotting normally.
  • Head injury
  • Nose tumours

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms of anterior nosebleed are bleeding that stops and starts or constant bleeding out of the front of your nose. Blood can flow from one or both nostrils. It may flow into your throat.

Symptoms of posterior nosebleed include rapid bleeding from the back of the nose or a slow, steady ooze. Sometimes the blood flows back into your throat and causes you to cough up blood.

How is it treated?

Most nosebleeds are minor and respond to first aid. First aid for a nosebleed includes these steps:

  1. When your nose starts bleeding, sit up and lean forward to prevent blood from passing into your throat.
  1. Pinch the nose gently but firmly between the thumb and index finger, just below the nasal bones, and hold it for 5 – 10 minutes.

After the bleeding stops, use a saline nasal spray or nasal gel to keep the nose moist. Do not blow your nose for several hours after the bleeding stops.

If a nosebleed lasts more than 10 minutes in spite of first aid, you may require silver nitrate cautery or electro-cautery to stop the bleeding.

How can I take care of myself?

  • Use a thin layer of petroleum jelly (such as Vaseline or Nasogel), or an ointment recommended by your doctor in your nose to prevent dryness, or use a saline nose spray.
  • Check with your doctor about any medicines you are using. For example, nosebleeds may be more severe or frequent if you are taking aspirin.
  • Do not smoke.
  • Avoid bending over, straining, and lifting heavy objects. Do not exercise vigorously for a few days after a nosebleed.

How can I help prevent a nosebleed?

  • To prevent dryness, keep the lining of your nose moist. Gently apply a light coating of petroleum jelly inside your nose or use a saline nose spray twice a day.
  • Avoid injuring the nasal membranes with nose picking, rubbing, or forceful nose-blowing