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Home Blog Nosebleeds: Why does it start and how do you stop them?

Nosebleeds: Why does it start and how do you stop them?

Nosebleeds, also known as epistaxis, are quite common due to the nose’s position and many blood vessels. Most of the time, they’re not serious, but in some cases, they might signal a more severe issue, like leukemia.

The most common reason for nosebleeds is local trauma, ranging from face blows to nose picking. Yet, foreign objects, infections in the nose, allergies, or sinuses, and breathing dry air for a long time can also trigger them. While nosebleeds are usually not a big worry, in rare cases, they could be serious.

In this article, we will explain what nosebleeds are, their causes, and ways to treat and prevent them.

What is the anatomy of the nose?

Understanding the nasal anatomy is crucial to comprehending why nosebleeds occur. The nose is a complex organ, and the interior of the nose is lined with a delicate mucous membrane that contains a rich network of blood vessels. That makes it prone to bleeding due to its high vascularity.

What is a nosebleed?

A nosebleed happens when there’s a loss of blood from the tissue inside your nose, affecting one or both nostrils. The nose has tiny blood vessels to warm and moisten the air you breathe. However, these vessels are close to the inner surface, making them prone to injury or breaking when the air dries and irritates them. Usually, nosebleeds are not serious, but a few times they can be bothersome.

What are the signs and symptoms of nosebleed?

The symptoms of a nosebleed include:

  • Bleeding from one or both nostrils
  • A feeling of liquid flowing at the back of the throat
  • Frequent urge to swallow

What causes a nosebleed?

Frequently, the bleeding occurs without a clear reason and might appear quite random.

Yet, certain factors can contribute to the bleeding, including:

  • Dry air and low humidity: Dry air can lead to the drying out of nasal passages, causing irritation and subsequent bleeding.
  • Infections: Certain infections can result in nosebleeds, such as colds (upper respiratory infections) and sinusitis, particularly instances involving frequent sneezing, coughing, and nose blowing.
  • Nasal trauma: Physical injury to the nose, including forceful picking, can damage blood vessels and trigger bleeding.
  • Allergies: Persistent sneezing and nose-blowing associated with allergies can contribute to nasal irritation and bleeding.
  • Deviated septum: Sometimes an abnormal shape of the wall that separates the two sides of your nose causes nosebleeds.
  • Nasal sprays: Repeated use of nasal sprays and medications for treating an itchy, congested, or runny nose can dry out the nasal membranes, resulting in nosebleeds.
  • Certain medications: Taking certain medications like blood-thinning medicines, NSAIDs, and others might cause nosebleeds.
  • Chemical irritants: Chemicals that are used in cleaning or chemical fumes at workplaces might also cause nosebleeds.
  • High altitudes: When one climbs high altitudes, the air gets thinner (lack of oxygen) and drier as the altitude increases, leading to nosebleeds.
  • Underlying medical conditions: Conditions such as bleeding disorders or the presence of nasal polyps can increase susceptibility to nosebleeds.

What measures should be taken to prevent nosebleeds?

To prevent nosebleeds, you can take a few precautionary measures, including:

  • Humidify your home: Using a humidifier helps maintain adequate humidity levels in indoor spaces, preventing nasal dryness.
  • Nasal saline sprays: Nasal saline sprays provide moisture to nasal passages, reducing dryness and irritation.
  • Stay hydrated: Maintaining adequate hydration ensures overall mucous membrane health.
  • Dietary modifications: avoid hot and spicy foods.
  • Lifestyle changes: avoid hot showers.
  • Gentle nose care: Avoiding aggressive nose-picking and blowing minimizes the risk of damaging blood vessels.
  • Use allergy medications: Managing allergies through medications reduces the frequency of sneezing and nose-blowing.
  • Do not take certain medications: Avoid aspirin or other blood thinners unless prescribed for medical reasons.

When should I seek medical attention for nosebleeds?

While preventive measures are effective in many cases, it is essential to recognize situations that warrant immediate medical attention:

  • Persistent or recurrent nosebleeds
  • Individuals exhibiting symptoms of anemia, such as weakness, faintness, fatigue, feeling cold or shortness of breath, or having pale skin.
  • A child under the age of 2 has had a nosebleed.
  • Individuals with known bleeding disorders
  • Individuals taking blood-thinning medications.
  • Individuals experiencing a nosebleed coinciding with the initiation of a new medication.
  • When nosebleeds along with unusual bruising all over your body, which may suggest a more serious condition like a blood-clotting disorder, leukemia, or a nasal tumor.

The takeaway

Nosebleeds, though common, can be managed and prevented with a proactive approach to nasal health. By understanding the various causes and implementing practical preventive measures, individuals can significantly reduce the occurrence of nosebleeds. However, it’s crucial to seek professional medical advice in cases of persistent or severe nosebleeds to ensure a comprehensive evaluation and appropriate management.

A collaborative effort between individuals and Dr. (Prof.) Ameet Kishore, the best ENT Specialist in Delhi, can pave the way for a life free from the inconvenience of recurrent nosebleeds. Schedule an appointment with him for more information.