The medical name for a nosebleed is epistaxis. Nosebleeds are frequent in adults and children between the ages of 3 and 10. In most cases, they aren’t severe and can stop on their own. They last from a few seconds to a few minutes (lasting a maximum of 15-20 mins) depending on how heavy or light the flow is.
There are two kinds of nosebleeds. An anterior nosebleed occurs when the blood vessels in the front of the nose break and bleed. A posterior nosebleed occurs in the back or the deepest part of the nose. In this case, blood flows down the end of the throat. Posterior nosebleeds can be dangerous. In extreme situations like this, one needs medical attention. (Kahtri 2019)
Causes of Nosebleeds
Dry air is the most common cause of nosebleeds. Living in a dry climate and using a central heating system can dry out the nasal membranes, which are tissues inside the nose. This dryness causes crusting inside the nose. Crusting may itch or become irritated. If your nose is scratched or picked, it can bleed.
Taking antihistamines and decongestants for allergies, colds, or sinus problems can also dry out the nasal membranes and cause nosebleeds. Frequent nose blowing is another cause of nosebleeds.
A few other common causes of nosebleeds include:
- A foreign object stuck in the nose
- Chemical irritants
- Allergic reaction
- Injury to the nose
- Repeated sneezing
- Picking the nose
- Cold air
- Upper respiratory infection
- Large doses of aspirin
In other cases, nosebleeds happen because of:
- High blood pressure
- Bleeding disorders
- Blood clotting disorders
- Hormonal changes during pregnancy
Less common causes of nosebleeds include tumors and inherited bleeding problems.
Injuries that might cause a nosebleed include a fall, a car accident, or physical contact. Nosebleeds that occur after an injury may indicate a broken nose, skull fracture, or internal bleeding. (Kahtri 2019)
Who Gets Nosebleeds?
Anyone can get a nosebleed, but they most often affect children aged between 2 and 10 years. Older adults and pregnant women may also get nosebleeds. People with blood clotting disorders, or those who regularly take aspirin or anticoagulants, can also get nosebleeds. (Mayo 2018)
Should You Worry About Having a Nosebleed?
Nosebleeds aren’t usually severe. However, frequent or heavy nosebleeds may indicate serious health problems, such as high blood pressure or a blood clotting disorder and needs diagnosis.
Excessive bleeding over a prolonged period can also lead to further problems such as anaemia. If your physician suspects a more serious problem is causing your nosebleeds, they may refer you to an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist for further tests.
When Do You Need To Seek Medical Attention?
You should get medical care immediately if:
- You’re injured or go through something traumatic, like a car accident.
- There’s more blood than you expect for a nosebleed.
- It affects your ability to breathe.
- The bleeding lasts longer than 20 minutes, even when you apply pressure.
- If you are losing a lot of blood and think you need emergency care, don’t drive to the hospital. Instead, have a friend or family take you, or call 911 or your local emergency number.
(WebMD Medical, 2019)
How to You Prevent or Stop Your Nose from Bleeding
- Go home and rest with the head elevated at 30 to 45 degrees.
- Do not blow your nose or put anything into it.
- Do not strain during bowel movements. Use a stool softener if required.
- Do not twist or bend down to lift anything substantial.
- Try to keep your head higher than the level of your heart.
- Do not smoke.
- Eat a diet of soft, fresh foods, and beverages. No hot liquids for at least 24 hours.
Avoid taking any medications that will thin the blood. For example, aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, and others), clopidogrel bisulfate (Plavix), or warfarin (Coumadin). However, before stopping any medicines, talk to your doctor first.
Your doctor may recommend some form of lubricating ointment for the inside of the nose.
If re-bleeding occurs, try to clear the nose of blood clots by sniffing in forcefully.
Repeat the steps above on how to stop the common nosebleed. If bleeding persists, call the doctor and go to the nearest emergency room. (Cunha 2019)
In case, you are helping someone else stop a nosebleed, avoid touching the other person’s blood. Use gloves or layers of fabric or a plastic bag to protect yourself.
Most often, nosebleeds are common and are not a chronic medical problem. Take your current age and health status into consideration. Nosebleeds are always concerning as they usually require intervention – at the minimum, several tissues. Repeated nose bleeds are concerning to most of us. Excessive nose bleeding can be both dangerous and life-threatening. Don’t leave your diagnosis up to interpretation.
Our Board-Certified ER Physicians are ready to quickly diagnose the cause of a nosebleed or any other medical emergency. We are open 24/7 – 365 days of the year to serve you when we’re needed most. Our beautiful facility is welcoming and comfortable and our staff treats each patient as a VIP. We invite you to compare our services to a large city hospital ER. We want to be your trusted emergency medical provider and will work hard to give you excellent care.
Kahtri, Minesh. “When Should I Call the Doctor About Nosebleeds?” WebMD, WebMD, 7 May 2019, www.webmd.com/first-aid/call-doctor-nosebleeds.
Cunha, John. “7 Tips to Stop a Nosebleed Fast.” MedicineNet.com , MedicineNet, 6 Sept. 2019, www.medicinenet.com/nosebleed/article.htm.
“What Causes Nosebleeds and How to Treat Them.” Healthline.com, Healthline Media, Mar. 2018, www.healthline.com/health/nosebleed#takeaway.
“Nosebleeds When to See a Doctor.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 2 May 2018, www.mayoclinic.org/symptoms/nosebleeds/basics/when-to-see-doctor/sym-20050914.