Nosebleeds. There isn’t much more disconcerting than having blood spewing from your face.
Except that nosebleeds are pretty common, and while they can be dramatic and even scary, most are not serious and can be easily handled.
Nosebleeds come in two types: anterior and posterior. Anterior nosebleeds are the most common, accounting for about 90% of all nosebleeds. They indicate that the bleeding causing the nosebleed is coming from the very front part of the nose. Posterior nosebleeds are much rarer, and occur when the bleeding comes from an artery at the back of the nose.
These kinds of nosebleeds are common in older people, and can be more complicated to deal with.
What Causes Nosebleeds?
There are a few things that can cause nosebleeds, but in most cases, you’ll find they are caused by one of the following:
- The breaking of fragile blood vessels that bleed easily, either due to dry air, cold air or even exercise
- An infection in the sinuses, adenoids, or in the lining of the nose
- An allergy causing hay fever or coughing
- Taking regular antihistamines, which can dry out the nose lining
- Bumps or falls
- An object inside the nostril (common in children)
- Nose picking
- A bleeding or clotting problem (rarer).
Bleeding from the nose is obviously the most apparent symptom of a nosebleed. People in the midst of a nosebleed may have blood from one or both nostrils, depending on the volume. They may also feel a sensation of liquid flowing at the back of their throat, and may have the urge to frequently swallow. Depending on the size of the bleed, during a nosebleed, an individual may also spit or even vomit up blood.
In the case of serious and high volume nosebleeds, there may be excessive blood loss, which could also result in light-headedness, confusion, dizziness, and fainting. It is rare for excessive blood loss to occur with a common nosebleed. However, if you suffer from a clotting problem, it can happen. People who have blood clotting issues (a serious medical problem) may also experience blood from different areas, such as the gums, in the urine, or in the bowl movements. If this occurs to you, see a doctor.
Treating Nosebleeds At Home
Managing a nosebleed at home is very straightforward, and in most cases (but not all, see next page), home treatment is all that is required. The process for treating a nosebleed is as follows.
First, reassure the individual if they are distressed. Children can be quite shocked and anxious about having a nosebleed, and crying can make the bleeding worse, so calm them as much as possible. Ensure that the person is sitting up straight, and then have their head slightly inclined forward. While doing this, apply your (or their) finger and thumb in a ‘pinch’ on the soft part of the nostril just below the nose’s bridge. Do this for at least 10 minutes, encouraging the person to breathe through their mouth.
As they wait for the bleeding to stop, loosen any tight clothing around the neck and place a cold pack or cold cloth on the forehead, neck and side of neck. This can help to calm an individual down. After 10 minutes, release the pinch and check to ensure the bleeding has completely stopped. If it has not, see notes on next page on seeking medical care.
If the bleeding has stopped, ensure the patient knows not to sniff hard or blow their nose for at least 15 minutes. They should also avoid picking or rubbing their nose for the rest of the day. This can be difficult for children, so just keep an eye on them to ensure their hands are away from the nose.
Anyone who has regular nosebleeds should consider going to see a doctor to investigate the cause of them. It could be an ongoing infection or similar, but long-term regular nosebleeds can cause some issues with anaemia.