What is epistaxis?

Epistaxis or nosebleed can be a scary ordeal for some individuals. Most cases can be readily managed at home but others require medical attention. The function of our nose is to warm and moisten the inhaled air. The nose is lined with blood vessels that are positioned close to the surface where they can be damaged and bleed. If a blood vessel starts to bleed, the bleeding has the tendency to recur since the clot can be easily dislodged.

What are the causes of epistaxis?

  • Dry, warm, low-humidity environments that can dry out the mucous membranes
  • Dry, heated indoor air that dries the nasal membranes which causes them to crack and eventually bleed
  • Common cold and sinusitis particularly episodes that trigger repeated coughing, sneezing and nose blowing
  • Inserting foreign objects into the nose
  • Vigorous nose blowing or picking on the nose
  • Exposure to chemical irritants
  • Injuries to the nasal area and/or face

    Common cold and sinusitis particularly episodes that trigger repeated coughing, sneezing and nose blowing

  • Allergic and non-allergic rhinitis
  • High blood pressure
  • Using drugs that thins out the blood
  • Deviated septum
  • Facial and nasal surgery
  • Presence of tumors
  • Hereditary bleeding conditions

How to control nosebleeds

  • Instruct the individual to relax
  • The individual should sit down and lean his/her body and head slightly forward. This position will prevent the blood from running down the throat which can lead to nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
  • Instruct the individual to breathe via the mouth.
  • With a damp washcloth or tissue, use it to catch the blood.
  • Use your index finger and thumb to pinch the soft part of the nose. You have to ensure that you are pinching the soft part against the bony ridge forming the nose bridge. If you will pinch at or above the bony area of the nose, it will not place any pressure to stop the bleeding.
  • Continue to pinch the nose for at least 5 minutes before checking if the bleeding has stopped. In case bleeding is still present, continue squeezing the nose for another 10 minutes.
  • Apply an over-the-counter decongestant spray into the bleeding nostril and then apply pressure again.
  • Once epistaxis┬áis controlled, instruct the individual not to bend over, strain and/or lift heavy objects as well as rub, pick or blow the nose for several days.

Preventive measures

  • Use a humidifier in the bedroom at night time.
  • Apply saline as a spray or nasal form 2-3 times throughout the day in every nostril. These are readily available over-the-counter or can be prepared at home. (Mix a teaspoon of salt to 1 quart of tap water and then boil for 20 minutes).
  • When squeezing, it should be done through an open mouth.
  • Apply water-soluble nasal ointments or gels into the nostrils using a cotton swab. Take care not to insert the cotton swab more than ┬╝ inches into the nose. These are readily available in most drugstores.
  • Instruct the individual to avoid blowing the nose forcefully, but he/she can choose to blow the nose after using nasal saline drops or sprays.
  • Limit the use of medications that increases the risk for bleeding such as ibuprofen and aspirin.
  • Do not insert anything solid into the nose including cotton applicators and fingers.
  • If possible, the individual should stop smoking since it dries out the nose and irritates it.
  • A doctor should be consulted if the nasal allergy symptoms could not be controlled using over-the-counter or prescription medications.


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