Nosebleeds – EPISTAXIS

A nosebleed can be a rather frightening experience, not just for children, but also for adults. However, even though it may not seem so, nosebleeds are rarely serious and can be managed easily. They are fairly common in children, as well as grownups and most people have experienced bleeding from the nose at some time or the other. Though nosebleeds can occur in just about anyone, they are the most common in children who are between the ages of 2 and 10 years. This is because children are likely to fall or incur injuries while running or playing. Children who get into squabbles quite regularly are also likely to suffer from frequent nosebleeds. Elderly people, who are over the age of 50, are also prone to this affliction.


The severity of the bleeding depends on several factors and the first thing to be taken into consideration is the location from where the bleeding has originated. In case the bleeding originated from the front of the nose, it is known as an anterior nosebleed. If the bleeding is from the back of the nose, it is called a posterior nosebleed. Anterior nosebleeds comprise more than 90% of all the bleeding problems from the nose. In this case, it is a blood vessel on the nasal septum from where the bleeding originates. It is not very difficult to control anterior bleeding, using home care measures or medicines suggested by a doctor.


Posterior nosebleeds are a bit less common than anterior nosebleeds. Elderly people are more likely to suffer from these nosebleeds though. In most cases, posterior nosebleeds originate from an artery located at the back of the nose. These types of nosebleeds are a lot more complicated and require medical attention. Very often this type of a nosebleed could require hospitalization for treatment.


Although the exact reasons for this are still not clear it has been seen that most people suffer from nosebleeds fin the early hours of the morning, or soon after they wake up from sleep.


Symptoms of Nosebleeds


A nosebleed is not really a condition on its own, but is more like a symptom of a problem. The severity of a nosebleed can vary from one person to the other, based on the cause. At times, you could see a nosebleed that is no more than a trickle of blood, but at other times, it could be in the form of a big gush that is difficult to control. Given below are some of the common signs and symptoms that indicate a nosebleed:


  • The appearance of blood from either one or both the nostrils
  • The necessity to swallow frequently, because of a blocked feeling in the nasal passages
  • The sensation of a fluid at the back of the nose and the throat
  • The presence of a reddish-brown powdery substance on a tissue paper after you wipe your nose
  • Difficulties in breathing, where you may feel that you are choking a bit


While some people experience several or most of the symptoms of nosebleeds, others only experience one or two. In most cases, the symptoms of a nosebleed should last for no more than 20 minutes or 30 at the most. If it does so happen that the symptoms do not subside within this time, make sure you seek medical attention immediately. At times, you may experience more severe symptoms of nosebleeds, which are an indication of a serious problem. Given below are some of the symptoms that accompany a nosebleed caused by serious underlying factors:


  • Appearance of a nasal deformity
  • Bleeding in the gums
  • Disturbances in vision
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Facial pain, accompanied by numbness in the area
  • Fainting spells
  • Hearing problems
  • High fever and chills
  • Pallor
  • Seizures
  • Swelling around the nose or the cheeks
  • Vomiting, especially if there are traces of blood in it


Causes of Nosebleeds


Not all cases of nosebleeds have an identifiable cause. One of the most common causes of nosebleeds is trauma to the nasal area. Trauma can be caused by external factors, like a blow to the face or an injury. You could also cause internal trauma to your nose, if you are in the habit of picking at it with sharp or pointy objects. However, some of the other problems that could cause a nosebleed are:


  • Nasal or sinus infections
  • Foreign objects stuck in the nasal passages
  • Nasal surgery
  • Exposure to dry and warm air for a long period of time
  • Allergic rhinitis
  • Sneezing excessively or blowing the nose too vigorously
  • Perforation or deviation in the nasal septum
  • Use of certain medications or illegal drugs like cocaine
  • Presence of kidney diseases or liver diseases
  • Vascular formations in the nose
  • Tumors in the nasal passages
  • High blood pressure, accompanied by excess levels of anxiety
  • Infections in the nose and nasal passages
  • Clotting disorders that may run in the family
  • Leukemia
  • Exposure to chemical irritants like ammonia
  • Common colds
  • Excessive use of nasal sprays
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Hemophilia
  • Hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia
  • Lupus
  • Nasal polyps
  • Sarcoidosis
  • Atherosclerosis, which is a disease of the arteries
  • Exposure to sudden altitude changes, as when flying


While any of these factors could lead to bleeding from the nose, the most common causes for nosebleeds are picking the nose, injuries to the nose area or exposure to too much dry heat. Identifying the exact cause of a nosebleed can be a major challenge, especially without the help of a medical health care provider.


Remedies for Nosebleeds


The treatment for anterior and posterior nosebleeds follows the same approach, at least initially. However, if the nosebleed is caused by simple and common factors, then your doctor may recommend the use of simple home remedies, to stem the bleeding problem. Given below are some of the most common remedies for nosebleeds:


  • Ice: This is the most common remedy for reducing swelling and bleeding problems, for most parts of the body including the nose. Ice or a cold compress will slow down the flow of blood, causing it to clot faster, which will stop the bleeding within a few minutes. Apply an icepack directly to the nose and use it for at least 5 minutes or so. In case you do not have access to an ice pack, you could just place a few ice cubes in a plastic bag or a towel and place it on your nose. Alternately, a bag of frozen vegetables will also do.
  • Baking Soda: This remedy is good for nasal irrigation and can stem the flow of blood from the nose. Make a solution with water and baking soda and spray 2 to 3 puffs of it on the nose.
  • Elevation: It is best to keep your head elevated at least till the bleeding stops. Lie down with your head propped up on a couple of pillows or sit in a reclining chair, with your head above the rest of your body. You also need to ensure that you avoid bending over.
  • Vinegar: Dip a small piece of cotton in a bit of white vinegar and plug it into the nostril that is bleeding. This remedy will help seal up the wall of the blood vessel.
  • Steam: In case you are prone to nosebleeds, make sure that you inhale steam as much as possible.


In case these remedies do not stem the flow of blood from the nose, within 20 to 30 minutes, seek medical attention without any delay.


Diet for Nosebleeds


There are many individuals who suffer from regular nosebleeds because of vitamin or nutritional deficiencies. In such cases, it is possible to reduce nosebleed problems, but making a few dietary adjustments. Given below are some of the recommendations for a diet for nosebleeds:


  • Increase the intake of iron in your diet, because it contains hemoglobin and is an important component of the red blood cells. Some of the most common iron-rich foods include red meat, spinach, egg yolks, artichokes, liver, collards, raisins, prunes, clams, oysters, scallops, turkey, chicken giblets, chickpeas, beans, soybean and pulses, to name a few.
  • Consume a higher amount of foods that are rich in Vitamin C, as it helps form collagen, which is an important part of body tissues. Some of the foods that are excellent sources of vitamin C include peppers (red and green), guavas, parsley, thyme, mustard greens, kale garden cress, Chinese gooseberries or kiwis, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, papayas, tangerines, oranges, lemons, strawberries.
  • When it comes to blood-clotting, Vitamin K is extremely important. Some of the best sources of Vitamin K include soybean or canola oil, mayonnaise, turnip greens, parsley, lettuce, endives, spinach, kale, collard greens, beef or pork liver, avocadoes, green onions, Brussels sprouts, cabbage and broccoli.
  • Zinc is an important nutrient, which helps in the maintenance of the blood vessels in the body. Some of the food items high in zinc include brown rice, whole wheat bread and popcorn.


Suggestion for Nosebleeds


When it comes to nosebleeds, a little bit of prevention can save you a lot of trouble. Even those nosebleeds that are not really serious cause some amount of fear or embarrassment, especially in children. Parents should ensure that their children’s nails are cropped short at all times. You also need to protect your child against excessive dryness of the nose. Special care needs to be taken, to keep allergies in check.


In case you, or your child, are taking medicines for the treatment of any condition, it is important to keep your doctor informed about it. Never stop taking your medication without consulting a doctor, even if you believe that they could be causing nosebleeds.