If you have ever had a nosebleed or attended to a person who has experienced one, you may have been astonished at the amount of blood that flows out of the nostrils.
However, while the quantity of blood seems a lot, most nosebleeds can be treated easily.
Why do nosebleeds occur?
The nose protrudes from the face and so is in a vulnerable position. It also filters out air and when the air is very dry (as in dry summer heat or heated winter air in a closed environment) it irritates the lining and causes nosebleed, which in medical terms is known as Epistaxis.
Types of nosebleeds
Anterior (lower) nosebleed –This happens when blood vessels near the surface break. This kind of nosebleed usually resolves itself in a short time and rarely requires medical intervention.
Posterior nosebleed – It is more serious since it occurs due to extensive trauma, tumours or other disorders leading to heavy bleeding. This blood can flow into the back of the mouth causing the person to choke. Whether anterior or posterior, the reason for frequent nosebleeds needs to be checked out by a doctor and the appropriate measures taken to prevent or treat them.
Reasons for nosebleeds
Nose injury, blowing the nose forcefully, colds, allergies, inserting objects into the nose (usually kids do this), infections, high blood pressure, substance abuse (like sniffing cocaine or other drugs), blood thinners, alcohol abuse, rhinitis, atherosclerosis. Some people, such as children and the elderly, are more prone to weather changes and get frequent nosebleeds while others never do.
- Sit down and lean forward, taking care to keep your head higher than your heart.
- Take care to keep your head in a higher position than your body or blood will backflow and be swallowed or inhaled, causing problems.
- Pinch the bridge of your nose just below the bone till the bleeding stops.
- Use an ice pack over the nose to reduce bleeding time.
- Use a handkerchief or tissue to absorb the blood.
- Once the bleeding stops, rest with your head in an elevated position.
- Avoid taking aspirins or blood thinners. If you are already on such medication, check with your doctor.
- Intake of hot foods, especially liquids, should be avoided for 24 hours.
- Do not pick your nose or rub it for two days.
- Gently lubricate the internal part of the nose with a cream or ointment.
- If the cause of nosebleed is dryness, consider installing a humidifier to prevent further such instances.
If nose bleeding does not stop within 15 minutes or keeps recurring at intervals, you need medical help. The majority of nosebleed cases are not serious and can be cured with home treatments.