You might have experienced one or two occasions where you nose suddenly bleed. It occurs in both children and adults. Even though it is quite common, nosebleeds can sometimes trigger one’s panic button especially when the bleeding takes a while to stop.
Nosebleeds or epistaxis can occur when the blood vessels in our nose get damaged. As our nose is lined with tiny and delicate blood vessels, they can relatively bleed easily.
Some of the common causes of nosebleeds are dry or low-humidity air, vigorous nose picking, injury to the nose or face, and repeated sneezing
In some cases, nosebleeds are also caused by the use of drugs that thin the blood such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) drugs such as painkillers like aspirin and ibuprofen. Tumours or high blood pressure are also some of the factors of nosebleeds.
For every nosebleed case, over 90% of nosebleeds occur from the front part of the septum and blood flows from one side or both sides of the nose. For this type of nosebleed, the bleeding usually stops after 15 to 20 minutes. However, when the nose is bleeding from the middle or back of the nose, bleeding may last until the blood pressure is reduced or the wound is ‘cauterised’ or burned with electric current.
This type of bleeding is more serious and needs immediate medical attention
For those who have a severe nosebleed, they can risk respiratory infection or nasal congestion. There is also a risk of having the blood flows to the lungs.
Nevertheless, mild nosebleed may often look worse than it actually is.
If you experience a nosebleed, it is important not to get panicked and follow these steps to stop the bleeding:
- Sit down and firmly pinch the soft part of your nose, just above your nostrils, for at least 10-15 minutes
- Lean forward and breathe through your mouth – this will drain blood down your nose instead of down the back of your throat
- Place an ice pack or bag of frozen vegetables covered by a towel on the bridge of your nose
- Stay upright, rather than lying down, as this reduces the blood pressure in the blood vessels of your nose and will discourage further bleeding
- Avoid from sneezing, picking and blowing your nose after the bleeding has stopped
- Avoid eating spicy foods as it can cause an inflammation to your nose
It is important that you go straight to the hospital if you have a nosebleed and:
- You’re taking a blood-thinning medicine (anticoagulant) such as warfarin or have a clotting disorder such as haemophilia and the bleeding doesn’t stop
- You have symptoms of anaemia such as heart palpitations, shortness of breath and a pale complexion
- A child under two years of age has a nosebleed
- You have nosebleeds that come and go regularly
- The bleeding continues for longer than 20 minutes
- The bleeding is heavy and you’ve lost a lot of blood
- You’re having difficulty breathing
- You swallow a large amount of blood that makes you vomit
- The nosebleed developed after a serious injury, such as a car crash
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