Grand Rapids ENT

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Nose Bleeds

A nosebleed is called epistaxis and is a fairly common occurrence. The blood comes from the tissue that lines the inside of the nostrils. Nosebleeds are more common in people who live in dry climates and they occur more often during the winter months. Children ages two to 10 and adults ages 50-80 are at the highest risk for having a nosebleed

Causes and concerns

There are several reasons why you may experience a nosebleed and most are not serious and go away on their own. The majority of nosebleeds come from the anterior, or the front of the nose. This type of nosebleed can be treated at home, most of the time, but occasionally, a trip to the doctor’s office is necessary, depending on the cause.

Posterior nosebleeds account for only five to 10 percent of epistaxis cases and can be more serious. This type of bleed starts from the back of the nasal cavity. This condition is more common in elderly people and can often require hospitalization. 

Other causes of nosebleeds include:

  • Dry nostril passages
  • Sinus infections
  • Nasal passage infections (virus, bacterial or fungi)
  • Excessive or hard nose blowing
  • Allergies
  • Deviated nasal spectrum (nasal septum is out of placed on one side)
  • Cocaine use
  • Foreign object in the nose (children love to put things in their noses)
  • Recent nasal surgery (medical related or plastic surgery)
  • Secondary to a disease or condition that has not been diagnosed yet
  • Certain prescription medications (Coumadin, aspirin and anti-inflammatory medications)
  • Antihistamines
  • High blood pressure
  • Anxiety
  • Blunt force trauma to the face (car accident, hit with a baseball, trauma)

Symptoms and signs

If you or your child has frequent nose bleeding, you should consider seeing an ear, nose and throat specialist. There are accompanying symptoms and signs that indicate an underlying problem. These include:

  • Persistent dry nose
  • Frequent nasal infections
  • Stuffy nose and colored drainage
  • Itchy, watery eyes
  • Inability to smell and loss of taste
  • Difficult breathing through the nose
  • Mouth breathing, especially at night

Solutions and options

When the nosebleeds, it should not last longer than 10 or 15 minutes, although it can bleed for as long as 30 minutes. If the nosebleed has not stopped within 30 minutes, medical attention is required. Most nosebleeds can be treated at home. Young children and even some adults will start to panic if they have a nosebleed. Keeping them calm is priority. When a person gets upset and the flight or fight response occurs, the adrenaline starts to pump. This can cause the nose to bleed more or for a longer period of time. Some tips for caring for a nosebleed include:

  • Pinch the soft spot on the bridge of the nose using your index finger and thumb
  • Sit up or stand up (never lie down during a nosebleed)
  • Lean forward slightly, so the blood does not drain down the back of the throat
  • If you have a decongestant nasal spray, squirt a few drops in the nostril that is bleeding