Our nasal passages are very delicate. Because it is highly vascular, any trauma to the nose can cause blood draining out from the nostrils. Although nosebleeds are rarely fatal, oozing blood can be very inconvenient for a person, and could sometimes bring about undesirable consequences.
Nosebleeds can look very alarming, especially if it is a severe hemorrhage. This typically occurs as a result of local injury such as a blow to the nose, a picky finger, very dry air, and nasal irritation that could cause perforation of the mucosal lining, exposing the blood vessels underneath eventually causing its rupture. But in some cases, epistaxis, the medical term for nosebleeding, may be due to underlying medical conditions such as vitamin K deficiency, clotting disorders, tumors, or the intake of anticoagulants and illicit drugs.
The bleeding may originate either in the anterior (front) or posterior (back) portion of the nasal cavity. Most nosebleeds are located anteriorly that comes from tiny capillaries, accounting for about 90% of the cases. They are much milder compared to those stemming from the back of the nose where there is already an involvement of arterial blood vessels. Because posterior bleeding comes from an artery, it is generally profuse and difficult to control.
Most nosebleeds arise secondary to trauma; however, it is still important to check with your physician as he can rule out any other possibilities especially if this has become frequent with no identifiable cause. In the meantime, here are ways you can do to beat the bleeding:
Bleeding from the nose can be stopped simply by applying pressure on the area. Sit up, so that the head is above the heart, and less blood will flow to the nose. Lean and slightly bend your head forward while pinching the nose. This will prevent blood from draining into the throat which can cause you to choke or spit out blood. Remember to keep the mouth open so that you can breathe properly.
In cases of severe bleeding, gauze may also be used to pack the nose. Gauze is more preferred than cotton as particles from cotton may pose a risk when inhaled. The bleeding should cease within half an hour, if not, proceed immediately to the emergency room.
Application of cold
Ice pack may be very helpful during nosebleeding. Studies have shown that the application of ice compress on the forehead or the bridge of the nose will help in constricting blood vessels, thereby minimizing blood flow and stopping the bleeding. A common practice is to suck ice chips or ice cubes which is also said to perform the same mechanism.
If humidity is identified to be the cause of nosebleed, the condition may be alleviated by installing a humidifier. Another method of moisturizing the nose is applying petroleum jelly or any water-based lubricant in the front portion of the nostrils. Saline sprays are also helpful. The Over-the -counter nasal decongestants may also be sprayed inside the nostrils to constrict the blood vessels and reduce the blood flow to the nose.
Refrain from using illicit drugs and blood thinners
Unless prescribed for a certain medical condition, never take anticoagulants without a prescription. Blood thinners like aspirin can prolong clotting time and aggravate bleeding.
Illicit drugs that can be snorted such as cocaine are highly associated with nosebleeding and perforation. Smoking can also dry out the nasal passages which increases your risk for nose bleeds.
Leave your nose alone
To prevent epistaxis, resist the temptation of forceful blowing of the nose, nose picking, and straining. If this cannot be prevented, the least you can do is to try doing it gently.
Have it seen by a doctor
The management of epistaxis will depend highly on where the bleed occurs. The physician will try to visualize the nasal passages to detect the area of origin.
Anterior bleeding can be treated with the administration of topical vasoconstrictors. But profuse bleeding from the posterior regions, there might be a need for nasal packing. A nasal catheter that is attached to a gauze soaked with petroleum jelly will be inserted. The catheter shall be removed while the vaselinized gauze is allowed to stay in place for 48 hours to a few days. Depending on the physician’s preference, a balloon-inflated catheter may be used as a substitute. People who have recurring nosebleeds may need to increase their iron intake or be prescribed with iron supplements because of the risk of developing anemia.