Stop a nosebleed within 20 minutes with these simple tips. Also, learn about how you can prevent future nosebleeds.
Bleeding from the nose is common and rarely serious. In fact, many adults, and children between the ages 3 to 10 have occasional episodes of nosebleeds. Though a non-serious condition, a nosebleed may seem scary and the sight of blood can be distressing to some individuals.
In this article, you will understand causes of nosebleeds, risk factors, and steps to stop and prevent bleeding.
What is a nosebleed?
In simple terms, a nosebleed is bleeding from either single or both nostrils. Most cases of nosebleeds involve only one nostril and such is generally harmless. However, bleeding from both nostrils can be more serious and cause loss of large amounts of blood.
The inside of the nose is covered by a moist layer which is richly supplied with blood vessels. For this reason, any injury or even a scratch can tear off the small blood vessels leading to bleeding. Blood from the nose can run down the back of the nose into the throat.
Depending on the site of bleeding, nosebleeds may be broadly classified into two types. They are:
- Anterior nosebleed. In this type, bleeding occurs due to ruptured blood vessels that lie in the front part of the nose.
- Posterior nosebleed. This type of nosebleed is more serious and involves blood vessels in the back part of the nose.
What are the causes and risk factors of nosebleeds?
In most cases, the common cause of nosebleeds is an injury that disrupts the tiny blood vessels inside the nose. Activities like nose picking and forceful blowing are the most common culprits. However, many other factors can also increase the risk. Risk factors include:
- Dry air. Continuous exposure to extreme temperatures and dry air can take away moisture from the moist layer that covers the inside of the nose. If you pick or scratch the dry layer, it may cause bleeding.
- Certain medications, especially cold and flu medications, can also dry out the moist layer and increase the risk of bleeding.
- Presence of foreign object or irritants in the nose. Exposure to cigarette smoke, sulfuric acid fumes, ammonia, gasoline, or other chemical irritants significantly increases the risk of bleeding.
- Allergy of the respiratory tract.
- Repeated sneezing.
- Cold air. Nosebleeds occur more commonly during seasonal changes when the air is cold and dry.
- Medications that interfere with blood clotting mechanisms such as aspirin and prescription blood thinners may also cause bleeding.
- In some individuals, medical conditions like high blood pressure, a bleeding disorder, blood clotting disorder, and cancer can contribute to bleeding.
- Heavy alcohol consumption. Taking large amounts of alcohol dilates the blood vessels and makes them more prone to bleeding. Moreover, alcohol can also interfere with clotting mechanisms in the body.
- A deviated septum. The septum is the wall between the two nostrils. If the septum deviates, it affects air flow in the nostrils. Over time, the nostril which gets little air becomes dry and may bleed easily.
- Dietary supplements like feverfew, garlic, ginger, ginseng and vitamin E can impair proper blood clotting.
Steps to Stop Nosebleeds: Know These Simple Treatment Measures
Most cases of nosebleeds are not serious and you can treat them at home. However, if the bleeding is severe and unresponsive to home remedies, see a doctor right away.
The simple ways to stop nosebleeds are:
- Sit up straight and tip your head slightly forward. Make sure not to tilt your head back. Doing so can cause blood to run down the back of your throat. If you swallow the blood, it might cause vomiting. So, if you get blood in your mouth or throat, spit out the blood instead of swallowing.
- Pinch the soft part of your nose using your thumb and forefinger. Most nosebleeds occur in the soft part of the nose.
- Because cold temperature constricts the blood vessels, you may apply an ice pack to your nose and cheeks.
- Continue pinching your nose for at least 10 minutes.
- After 10 minutes, release the pressure on the nose and check to see if your nose is still bleeding. If the bleeding persists, pinch for another 10 minutes.
- Use a water-based nasal gel or an antiseptic nasal cream inside your nose. You may also use saline for this purpose.
- Avoid blowing your nose for at least 12 hours after the bleeding has stopped.
- Rest for another few hours, avoiding intense physical activity.
How to Prevent Nosebleeds
Once you have stopped a nosebleed, make sure to reduce the chances of future events of bleeding by:
- Avoiding forceful nose-blowing.
- Not picking your nose.
- Avoiding heavy lifting or other stressful activities quickly after a nosebleed.
- Sleeping in a position that elevates your head. Use a high pillow.
- Keeping your nostrils moist by applying a thin layer of a saline- or water-based nasal gel.
- Avoiding aspirin or other painkillers for at least 3 to 4 days after a nosebleed. Instead, you may use Acetaminophen to relieve pain.
- Not taking non-prescription allergy medications and decongestants immediately following a nosebleed.
- Quitting smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke.
- Nosebleeds are common and rarely fatal or life-threatening.
- Most nosebleeds stop after 20 minutes of applying pressure.
- If nosebleeds start occurring frequently, talk to your doctor as they could be indicative of some serious underlying causes such as bleeding disorders or even cancer.
- If the nosebleed is due to injury to the nose caused by a fall or road traffic accident, seek immediate medical attention.
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