Nosebleeds: Why And What To Do

Do you know that the central heating system in your office could make your nose bleed? Nosebleeds are scary but mostly harmless. Anyone could have it, from a 3-year-old to a 70-year-old.

By Monali Bordoloi

Nosebleeds: Why And What To Do

Kirthi Joshi was just a few weeks pregnant when she first noticed a nosebleed. Terrified that something bad happened to her and her yet-to-be born child, Kirthi rushed to meet her gynaecologist. She was convinced when the doctor explained to her that nosebleed was common during the first trimester of pregnancy and her unborn child was safe.

8-year-old Kaushik Mahapatra was suffering from severe cold for about a week. One day, when he was reading a book, suddenly his nose started to bleed. Kaushik panicked and ran to his mother and showed her his bloodied nose. His mother realised that it could be because of his cold and nose picking made it worse. She immediately made him sit straight and thankfully his bleeding stopped.

Nosebleeds, in general, do not require medical intervention. However, seek medical attention if your nosebleed lasts longer than 20 minutes or it occurs after some injury to the head or nose. Heavy bleeding could be a sign of more serious conditions.

Why we have nose bleeding?

According to Dr Sowmya CC, consultant paediatrician, Apollo Cradle, Bangalore, “In medical terms, nose bleeding is called epistasis. It happens in children frequently post upper respiratory tract infection. The blood vessels inside the nose are very fragile, when these breaks, we have nosebleeds. Even if a bloodied nose looks scary, in most cases, there is nothing to worry about nose bleeding. However, in case of frequent and continuous bleeding, immediate medical attention is required.” 

Causes of nosebleed:

Causes of nosebleed could range from pregnancy to nose-picking to dry air! Dr Sowmya says, “Commonly children suffer from nose bleeding because they pick their noses. If they prick from the little area where blood vessels meet, they usually bleed. Other causes of it could be any growth or polyp inside nose, nasal bone fracture, injury from a foreign body in the nose or a bleeding disorder, hypertension and even pregnancy.”

Dry air

The membranes inside our nose dry out in dry air. This dryness cause crusting inside the nose. When we scratch or pick those, it can bleed. Blowing your nose frequently can also cause nosebleed.

Medicines

If you are taking medicine for cold and allergies like antihistamines and decongestants, it could cause nosebleed.

Blood-thinning and pain-killer medications; anticoagulants like aspirin and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) can all cause nosebleeds. In fact, medications that change the blood’s ability to clot can cause a nosebleed.

Injury to the nose

Small children often have nosebleed due to injury to their nose. Injuries that might cause a nosebleed include a fall, a car accident, or a punch in the face. Nosebleeds that occur after a major trauma may indicate a broken nose, skull fracture, or internal bleeding in serious cases.

Pregnancy

Pregnancy could trigger a nosebleed, even in the first trimester, as increased blood supply put a pressure on the blood vessels in the nose and it expands and ruptures causing a nosebleed. It is a common complaint during pregnancy, however, it’s not a cause for concern. As Kirthi found out her baby was safe too in case of mild nosebleed.

How to treat a nosebleed:

If there is no serious medical condition, you can treat nosebleed at home. Dr Sowmya says, “If your child is having a nosebleed, first we should make the child sit comfortably and support his neck. Then squeeze the soft part of the nose for 5-10 minutes and slowly apply an ice pack over the bridge of the nose. If bleeding is profuse nasal gauze should be applied.”

As a first-aid care for a nosebleed, Dr Sowmya says we should ask the person having a nosebleed not to panic and make him sit straight and tip the head slightly forward. Ask her not to blow her nose forcefully. If bleeding continues, apply an ice pack on the nose. Make sure that the person does not swallow blood.”

However, for long-term treatment, Dr Sowmya says, “If any polyp or growth is detected as the cause of nosebleed, the primary cause should be treated. For persistent and frequent nosebleeds, we use a medical technique called cauterisation which burns the blood vessels in the nose to stop further bleeding.”

Steps to stop a nosebleed:

  1. Sit straight and lean forward.
  2. Pinch the nostrils with fingers for 5-10 minutes.
  3. Breathe through the mouth.
  4. Apply an ice pack on the bridge of the nose.

If you are having a nosebleed after a head injury, or if you are having frequent nosebleeds, consult your doctor. 

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