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Epistaxis (Nasal bleeding)
 
 
What is epistaxis?
epistaxis

Epistaxis is bleeding from one or both nostrils. Nosebleeds are more common in athletes who are involved in collision activities such as wrestling, football and hockey. There are two different types of nosebleeds, posterior and anterior nose bleeds. The less severe type of bleeding is anterior, however it can be more frightening since blood is seen oozing from the nostrils. Posterior nosebleeds are not that easily visible since blood oozes down the throat.

Anterior nosebleeds often occur in younger individuals due to an injury or as a result of excessively dry nasal membranes. A posterior nosebleed often occurs in older patients whose arteries and vessels found in the posterior section of the nose become hard and break.

Causes and Risks associated with Epistaxis (Nosebleeds)

The most common cause of nasal bleeding is trauma such as a sudden, forceful injury to the nose. Trauma may cause broken nasal bones that in turn result in cuts to the nasal membranes. Allergies, sinusitis, upper respiratory tract infections and drug inhalation can cause swelling of the membranes and as such can lead to bleeding of the tissues.

Some drugs such as nasal drops, blood thinners and aspirin can cause nose bleeds. Certain diseases can also influence epistaxis. These include:

  • Aplastic anaemia.
  • Leukaemia.
  • Haemophilia.
  • Thrombocytopenia.
  • Hodgkin's disease.
  • Arteriosclerosis.
  • Rheumatic fever.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Liver disease.

Symptoms of Epistaxis

Bleeding often occurs from one or both nostrils. When bleeding is heavy, the blood often fills the affected nostril and results in an overflow of liquid down the back of the throat (Nasopharynx). This can cause simultaneous bleeding of the other nostril as well. When the blood that drips down the back of the throat reaches the stomach, it can cause nausea and vomiting.

Signs of excessive blood loss may include dizziness, weakness, fainting and confusion.

Preventing Epistaxis

In order to reduce the chances of injury an individual should wear protective equipment for the face and head during athletic activities since most nosebleeds occurs due to direct trauma. Some nosebleeds occur during winter and in dry or cold climates. If an individual is prone to nosebleeds he or she should use a humidifier at home. Antibiotic ointment, petroleum jelly or a saline nasal spray can also be used to keep nasal passages moist.

A person should not try to blow their nose too vigorously or pick the nose. When a nosebleed is related to a medical condition such as liver disease or a chronic sinus condition, it is advised to follow any medical practitioner’s instructions in order to keep the medical problem under control.

Treatment for Epistaxis

Most nosebleeds can be controlled with a simple treatment; sitting up with the head bent forward to help stop the nosebleed. A little amount of bleeding from the nose requires little intervention. If any blood is observed on a tissue after blowing the nose, the individual should avoid all forceful sneezing, blowing and nose picking. As such these methods are usually sufficient to keep bleeding from getting worse.

Ways to stop a nosebleed include:

  • Remaining calm.
  • Sitting up straight and leaning forward.
  • Pinching the nostrils together and applying direct pressure.
  • Spitting out blood in the since swallowing blood may result in nausea and vomiting.

 

 
 
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