Nosebleed (Bloody Nose or Epistaxis)
Nosebleeds are also called Epistaxis and are commonly caused due to drying of the membranes of the nose and nose picking. Drying of the membranes is common in winter when the air is dry. The bleeding is caused by the rupture of blood vessel within the nose.
The nose is situated in a vulnerable position and protruding on the face. Hence any trauma to the face leads to a nose bleed. Nose is also rich in blood vessels and even a minor injury can also lead to bleeding.
Although the sight of blood flowing out of the nose is scary, it is rarely fatal.
Other causes include:
- Medications taken to prevent normal blood clotting or taking any anti-inflammatory medicines
- Due to upper respiratory infections
- Hot dry weather with low humidity
- Alcohol abuse
- Hormonal changes eg: during pregnancy
- Inflammatory reactions
- Improper use of nasal sprays (nasal steroids)
- Middle ear barotrauma (caused while flying or scuba diving)
- Blood generally flows from one nostril or sometimes both nostrils. Blood can also drip back into the throat or down into the stomach.
- Excessive blood loss can lead to dizziness and fainting.
- Vomiting and spitting of blood.
Immediate steps to do when the nose bleeds:
- Hold the nose for some time such that the nostrils are closed (atleast for 5 minutes)
- Lean the head little forward to avoid blood flow into the throat and sinuses
- Apply cold compressions or ice to nose and cheeks
- Do not sniff or blow your nose for several hours
- Lying down during a nose bleed is also not recommended
- Avoid hot food for at least a day
- Avoid smoking
- If a person is prone to nosebleeds in winter, it is better to use a petroleum jelly, saline nasal spray or an antibiotic ointment to keep the nasal passages moist
- Stop smoking
- Avoiding picking the nose
- If the nosebleed is due to an underlying medical condition, it is better to follow the doctor’s instructions – to keep the problem under control