What is it?
Epistaxis is bleeding from blood vessels in the nose.These blood vessels are located close to the surface in the nose and this makes them fragile and easy to burst. They can occur at any age but are twice as common in children. Most nosebleeds are harmless and do not require treatment.
What are the symptoms?
Bleeding usually starts from one nostril.In case of heavy bleeding, it may fill up both the nostrils and overflow the nasopharynx. In some cases, blood may drip back from the nose through the throat to stomach which may result in vomiting. The common signs of excessive nosebleed are:
- Excess blood loss which rarely happens, may cause dizziness and fainting, confusion, loss of alertness and light-headedness.
- Additional bleeding from other parts of the body, such as bleeding gums when brushing teeth, blood in urine or bowel movements, or easy bruising also indicate an inability of the blood to clot.
What to expect?
You can stop nearly all nosebleeds yourself at home. Follow these simple first aid steps:
- Stay calm. If a child has a nosebleed then reassure them as crying will make the bleeding worse.
- Sit upright and bend forward slightly. Use the thumb and forefinger to pinch the nose. Squeeze firmly over the soft part of the nose just above the nostrils. Hold for 10 minutes and then release the grip slowly. You may have to repeat this step until the bleeding stops.
- Breathe through your mouth while the nostrils are pinched.
- Spit out any blood that comes into your mouth. Do not swallow the blood.
- It may help to put a cold pack or cold cloth over your forehead or the bridge of the nose.
- Rest quietly for the next 12 to 24 hours.
- You can spray an over-the-counter decongestant spray, such as oxymetazoline into the bleeding side of the nose and then hold apply pressure to the nose as described above. However, these topical decongestant sprays should not be used over the long term.
- Avoid aspirin if possible after consulting your doctor.
- Some people with dry skin in the nose may find ointment (such as Vaseline) may help.
- If you have constipation, use a stool softener to prevent straining.