Nosebleed causes and how to prevent

A nosebleed can be unnerving, especially given the volume of blood involved. However, for most people they are not serious. The under 10s and the over 50s are those who are most likely to suffer from nosebleeds. Understanding them is the first step to learning how to prevent and treat nosebleeds when they arise.

Common causes of nosebleeds

Mucous membranes in the nose warm and humidify air as it passes through this part of the body thanks to a rich vascular supply. A group of blood vessels on the anterior septum tend to be the cause of the vast majority of nosebleeds. Triggers for bleeding from this part of the body can include dry air or something like the common cold. Over using nasal sprays, a trauma or injury, an infection of the upper respiratory tract or medication, such as aspirin, can all be behind a nosebleed, as well as conditions such as hypertension and vascular diseases. Allergic reactions are another very common cause of nosebleeds as allergens tend to dry out the nose - anything that irritates the nasal membranes and damage the blood vessels and cause a nosebleed.

Why are children so susceptible to nosebleeds?

Nose picking is another very common reason for regular nosebleeds and this can be something that children do frequently. They are also much more likely to suffer small injuries to this part of the body as a result of activity in the playground, sports and games. Nosebleeds in children aren’t usually serious but it’s important to seek medical help if the nosebleed goes on for more than 20 minutes and if there are other symptoms, such as dizziness, the child is struggling to breathe because of the heaviness of the bleeding or has taken a hit to the head.

What to do when a nosebleed occurs

  • Don’t lean your head back as this may mean that you start gagging on the blood, or coughing, which can make you feel worse. Instead, simply sit and try to relax.
  • Apply pressure against the septum by pinching the soft part of the nose.
  • Try applying ice to the nose.
  • Pinch your nose again for five full minutes - make sure you have a way of watching the time.
  • If your nose is still bleeding then pinch the soft part of the nose once again for 10-15 minutes.
  • You can try over-the-counter sprays containing oxymetazoline or phenylephrine to help stop the bleeding.
  • If your nose is still bleeding you may need medical attention.

Preventing nosebleeds

There are some simple ways to stop nosebleeds from happening, including avoiding triggers such as hot and spicy food, hot showers or blowing your nose hard or picking it. Nasal saline sprays and using an air humidifier can also be useful, as well as avoiding blood thinners such as aspirin unless they are absolutely necessary.

Nosebleeds can be challenging but there are ways to stop them from happening - and to deal with them when they do.

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