A nosebleed is characterized by bleeding from the interior of the nasal cavity. It can be caused by heat, dry
Anterior nosebleeds, or bleeding of the nose that comes from near the nose opening, are the most common nosebleeds in children. Children are twice as likely to experience nosebleeds as adults are. Bleeding that originates from deep within the nasal cavity is known as a posterior nosebleed, the type usually experienced by adults.
Causes & symptoms
The most common causes of nosebleeds are:
- Low humidity. Hot and dry climates can dry out the nasal cavities.
- Nasal trauma. Injuries to the nose can cause bleeding. Excessive nose picking can also injure the interior of the nose.
- Cold, allergies, and sinus infections. Excessive nose blowing and irritation to the mucous membrane can cause bleeding.
- Medications. Bleeding can be triggered by Certain medications, particularly those with anticoagulant (or blood thinning) properties.
Nosebleeds can also be symptomatic of less common, but more serious, medical conditions. These include:
- nasal polyps
- high blood pressure
- blood clotting disorders (i.e., thrombocytopenia, liver disease)
A nosebleed is easily diagnosed by sight. Further examination of the nasal cavity may be necessary to determine the source of the bleeding, and a medical history should be taken if the cause of the nosebleed is not readily apparent.
The first step in treating a nosebleed is to stop the bleeding. An individual experiencing a nosebleed should lightly blow his or her nose, and then pinch both nostrils to encourage clotting of the blood flow. The nose should be pinched close for five to 10 minutes, or until bleeding has stopped. In most cases, this will resolve the nosebleed.
If pinching does not stop blood flow completely, an astringent can also be used to dry up the blood flow. A piece of cotton soaked in witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana)
Use of a spray decongestant is sometimes recommended to shrink blood vessels and stop bleeding. In severe cases where bleeding from the nose does not stop after 20 minutes, professional emergency care should be sought. Surgery to remove nasal polyps may be required in patients with this problem. In some cases of repeated, serious nosebleeds, cauterization of the blood vessels in the nasal passages is necessary.
Most nosebleeds will resolve by themselves in 10–15 minutes. Nutritional and environmental measures can prevent further occurrences in many cases.
The following precautions can prevent or lessen the frequency of nosebleeds:
- Vitamin C. An adequate supply of vitamin C is necessary to form collagen, the connective tissue that strengthens blood vessel walls.
- Humidify the air. Using a humidifier in the home and office can prevent nosebleeds caused by a dry environment.
- Vitamin E. Rubbing liquid vitamin E in the nose keeps the mucous membrane moist.
Hoffmann, David. The Complete Illustrated Herbal. New York: Barnes & Noble Books, 1999.