Nosebleed, otherwise called a bloody nose or a nasal haemorrhage is a common condition that affects numerous people of all age groups. The medical designation for this occurrence is epistaxis, derived from the Greek words “epi” meaning upon, addition and “stazein” implying dripping, which when combined as “epistazein”, translates to bleeding from the nose, in both the Greek and Latin languages.
A massive number of blood vessels are concentrated in the region of the nasal passages, which are quite delicate, frail and prone to bleeding. Moreover, the nose is very exposed, being located in the front, centre of the face and hence nosebleeds tend to affect most individuals at least once, if not more number of times. Bleeding from the nose is rather common not only in children between 3 to 10 years, who play outdoors every day and injure themselves often but also in adults, mostly because of environmental changes, inadvertent occurrences, leading to wounds.
Nosebleeds are essentially of two types – anterior nosebleed and posterior nosebleed. When the blood vessels located in the front of the nose crack due to forceful circumstances and ooze out blood, then it is termed as an anterior nosebleed. A posterior nosebleed involves the deeply interior blood vessels of the nose breaking and bleeding, resulting in blood travelling down the throat and can at times, be rather harmful and cause serious consequences.
It is hence necessary to understand the causes and symptoms of nosebleeds, to ensure an accurate diagnosis and timely medical treatment so that bleeding ceases from the blood vessels in the nostrils and the patient recovers completely.
Causes Of Nosebleeds
The predominant reason behind nosebleeds or epistaxis is extremely dry weather conditions outside, while constantly heating the inner surroundings within the home using a central temperature-controlled air supply device. This invariably leaves the tissues inside the nose completely parched, leading to crusting, itching, cracking and bleeding.
Furthermore, taking prescription medicines for common cold, allergies, sinusitis, such as antihistamines and decongestants, also leaves the internal cells in the nostrils devoid of moisture, drying out the nasal membranes and triggering nosebleeds. Having a deviated septum, sneezing or picking the nose frequently also causes nosebleeds.
Quite often, nosebleeds happen due to local trauma, such as sports injuries from boxing, football, accidental incidents of tripping, falling facing front. Inhaling chemical substances that irritate the nasal membranes, having foreign particles trapped inside the nose or suffering from respiratory infections and lung, breathing conditions, like wheezing, asthma also causes nosebleeds.
In rare circumstances, however, epistaxis also takes place owing to tumours and cancers, high blood pressure, malfunctions in blood clotting mechanisms and defective structures of blood vessels in the nose.
The characteristic symptoms of nosebleed are continuous loss of blood from the nasal passages. At times, it occurs without any accompanying attributes, but in some cases, epistaxis can also prompt itching, irritation, peeling of the skin, crusting and drying up of tissues in the outer nose as well as interior nasal membranes, passages.
The doctor initially inspects the nose for any signs of infection or any indication of foreign matter being clogged in the nasal passages. The physician also enquires about the complete medical history of the patients, besides conducting a thorough physical examination.
The medical expert also studies the interior portions of the nose utilizing a nasal endoscopy procedure, wherein an instrument known as an endoscope is inserted through a nostril opening, to view if there are any abnormalities in structure. A blood test is carried out, to look for possible blood-related disorders which could trigger nosebleeds.
If the healthcare provider suspects an injury, then a CT scan, X-ray of the nose is also performed, to obtain images of the muscular and bone structure around the nasal passages and probe for any irregularities.
Minor nosebleeds can be rectified at home with some simple remedies. Sitting up erect, keeping the nostrils sealed, breathing via the mouth and leaning forwards for about 5 to 10 minutes helps stop nosebleeds. Applying a cold compress on the region of the nose outside, or spraying some nasal decongestant into the nostrils also aids in ceasing slight nosebleeds.In case any unknown objects are stuck in the nose, the doctor performs a simple procedure to remove the obstructions and mend nosebleeds. To curb frequent episodes of epistaxis, a process known as cauterization may also be carried out, which involves sealing the leaking blood vessel in the nose with a chemical like silver nitrate or heat. If nosebleeds due to deviated septum occur often, then surgery is performed, to repair the broken structure in the nose. When nosebleeds occur due to underlying medical conditions such as cancer or hypertension, then prescription medications are given by the healthcare professional, to effectively treat the disorder and halt recurrent nosebleeds. In this manner, the patient can overcome the painful, discomforting situations of nosebleeds and their optimal health is guaranteed.