Nosebleeds. Why The Happen And How To Stop Them?
Jun 17, 2007 by Peter Jameson
Most Are Not Serious
Although nosebleeds are generally more of a nuisance than they are a serious health threat you should be aware that they might also indicate the presence of other an underlying illness. Most nosebleeds can be treated at home and although they can be messy and embarrassing they do not call for anything more than minor first aid.
Are there different kinds of nosebleed?
The majority of nosebleeds start in the lower part of the septum which is the semi-rigid wall that separates the two channels of the nose. It contains blood vessels that can be broken by a blow to the nose or by the edge of a sharp fingernail and with this type of nosebleed which is called an anterior nosebleeds the bleeding may occur from one side of the nose (epistaxis) or from both (epistaxis bilateral) sides. This type of nosebleed can usually easily be treated at home and won't require any further medical attention.
Posterior nosebleeds which are rarer start occur when the bleeding begins high and deep within the nose often causing the blood to flow down the back of the mouth and throat even when the patient is sitting up or standing. This type of nosebleed can be much more serious and if it occurs you should seek immediate medical attention.
What Causes Them?
Nosebleeds are caused by the rupture of a small blood vessel called a capillary in the nose.
This most often occurs as the result of a blow to the nose or to the surrounding area.
The second main cause is dryness of the inside of the nose which is most commonly caused by climate or by heated indoor air which dries out the nasal membranes causing crusts that may itch and then bleed if picked.
Other common causes of nosebleeds are colds, high altitudes, allergies and medications.
Nosebleeds sometimes indicate a calcium deficiency and are occasionally a sign of high blood pressure or a disease of the arteries and even cancer. They might also indicate hereditary haemorrhagic telangiectasia sometimes also known as Osler-Weber-Rendu syndrome which is a disorder involving a vascular growth similar to a birthmark in the back of the nose.
What should I do to stop a nosebleed?
Doctors most frequently advise people with lower-septum nosebleeds to sit up straight and pinch the nostrils together firmly for 10 minutes.
If this doesn't stop the bleeding then an ice pack can also be applied to the nose and cheeks and the nostrils pinched for another 10 minutes.
If the nosebleed was caused by atmospheric dryness then the patient should breathe steamy air and after the bleeding stops a petroleum jelly should be applied just inside the nose to prevent further bleeding.
Once a nosebleed has been stopped the sufferer should avoid any strenuous activity for around 12 hours and should try not to blow his/her nose as it may dislodge blood clots and cause the bleeding to restart.
If bleeding does not stop after 30 minutes of direct pressure or if blood runs down the back of the throat when pressure is applied to the nose then this might indicate a higher-septum nosebleed and in either case you should seek the attention of a qualified medical practitioner.
Additionally, if nosebleeds occur more than once a week please seek qualified medical advice.
How Are Serious Nosebleeds Treated
Qualified medical practitioners will most often use cauterisation which is a minor surgical procedure that involves destroying tissue with either an electric current, a hot iron or caustic chemicals which seal the ruptured blood vessel and prevent further bleeding.