Epistaxis or nosebleeds occur when tiny blood vessels in the nose burst. It is very common and can affect people at any point in their lives. Nosebleeds are more common in children between the ages of two to ten years and also in adults over 50 years of age. It is observed that 60% of people will have a nosebleed at least once in their lifetime and may opt to visit a doctor for a consultation. If you find yourself in Singapore, The ENT Clinic is one recommended practice run by experienced ENT doctors, catering to both adult and pediatric nosebleeds.
What is a nosebleed?
In simple terms, a nosebleed is the loss of blood from the nasal tissue from the inside of the nose. As the nose has a large number of blood vessels, it makes it an easy target for nosebleeds following an injury.
Are nosebleeds serious?
It could be alarming to see blood coming off your nose, however, not all nosebleeds are serious. Most nosebleeds can be managed at home. If however you have recurrent nosebleeds, then it is important to be evaluated by an ENT doctor to understand the reasons for the frequent occurrence.
What are the different types of nosebleeds one can have?
The type of nosebleed can be described by the site of the bleed. An anterior nosebleed is one which starts in the front of the nose and it is the most common form of nosebleed. This is not very serious and quite common in children. Posterior nosebleeds on the other hand occur deep inside the nose with larger blood vessels being damaged. This can lead to heavier bleeding which can flow from the back of the throat.
Individuals prone to nosebleeds
While anyone can have a nosebleed, there are certain individuals who have a higher tendency to have a nosebleed. They include:
- Older adults whose blood takes longer to clot. This can include people who take medicines like aspirin
- Children with allergies are more prone to nosebleeds
- Patients with high blood pressure and atherosclerosis
- Pregnant women
- People with blood clotting disorders.
What are the causes of nosebleeds?
Nosebleeds are mostly spontaneous, however, if one has recurrent nosebleeds, then the reasons can be pinpointed.
- Dry climates which can dry the nasal cavity.
- Picking your nose
- Frequent colds and upper respiratory tract infections
- Heavy nose blowing
- A deviated septum
- Injury through a foreign object
- Allergies and overuse of decongestants
- Nasal sprays
- Sinus infections
- Alcohol usage
How to prevent nosebleeds?
Some ways to prevent nosebleeds include keeping the home humidified and following the instructions which come with using nasal decongestants. It is important to minimize injuries and avoiding picking on your nose is important.
When to see a doctor?
There are certain instances when immediate action needs to be taken on a nosebleed. One needs to be driven to the emergency center in case the nosebleed:
- If there is bleeding even after 15 to 20 minutes of direct pressure being applied.
- If the amount of loss of blood is more than a cup and there is rapid loss of blood.
- If you have difficulty in breathing
- A nosebleed caused due to trauma and serious injury
- A nosebleed accompanied with vomiting
Also it is recommended to contact an otolaryngologist if:
- If you have frequent nosebleeds
- If you are anemic
- It’s a child under 2 years of age
- If one is on blood thinning medications
- If one has blood clotting disorders
- If a nosebleed has started due to change in medication
- If there are frequent nosebleeds along with bruising all over the body indicating something serious.
During the assessment the doctor will ask you about the amount of blood loss, length of the nosebleed, frequency of nosebleeds and if it is involved in one or both nostrils. Occasionally a CT scan or an X-ray may be ordered to investigate.