Nose Bleeds: What You Need to Know
Nose bleeds can sometimes be annoying, irritating, or even scary. It’s important to know why they can happen, what you can do to prevent them, and when to see a doctor.
Nose bleeds, also known as epistaxis, can occur regularly and in all age groups. We particularly see them often in children. The number one cause of nose bleeds in kids is digital trauma, or nose-picking. Because the nose helps the body to humidify the air we breathe and even helps to clean this air by catching particles of dust, dryness can sometimes occur. If it occurs heavily, the blood vessels in the anterior part of the nose can crack and bleed.
Keeping the nose moist will help in keeping these vessels, which are in the front part of the cartilaginous portion of the nasal septum (i.e. the mid-portion of the nose), from cracking so easily. Over-the-counter nasal saline sprays usually will do the trick in keeping the nose moist.
For adults, especially older adults, minor trauma can be worsened when people take blood-thinning medicines such as aspirin on a regular basis. If a nose bleed does occur, however, it is important to apply pressure to this front part of the nose, as opposed to the bony upper part. This pressure, applied for around five minutes, typically provides immediate relief. Additionally, there is usually no need to tilt your head back, as swallowing blood can actually make people nauseous as well.
Sometimes a decongestant nasal spray can help in the event a nose bleed occurs, as the spray works to constrict the blood vessels. If you have a nose bleed that lasts longer than normal (40 minutes) or have nose bleeds on a frequent basis, it is important to have a consultation with an otolaryngologist — an ear, nose & throat (ENT) doctor. Your doctor can make sure that the epistaxis is not a sign of something more worrisome and may recommend one or more in-office treatment procedures to help reduce nose bleed occurrences.
Assist. Prof. Dr. Dhave Setabutr is a U.S. board-certified specialist in otolaryngology and
pediatric otolaryngology (Ear, Nose, Throat) at Bumrungrad International Hospital