Have you ever had a nosebleed? If you never have, you’re extremely fortunate! Nosebleeds can be unnerving and messy, especially when they come on out of nowhere. My first experience with a nosebleed happened when I was four years old and fell down the stairs . . . I still remember it clearly! So what can cause a nosebleed (other than falling down the stairs)? How can you get a nosebleed to stop? And, can nosebleeds be an indication of something more serious? Keep reading for the answers to all of those questions and more.
Have you ever had a nosebleed? If you never have, you’re extremely fortunate! I don’t get them often, but I do remember my very first occurrence of a nosebleed. I can still see it clearly, like it was yesterday . . .
I was about four years old and fell down the stairs. Ouch! Suddenly blood started gushing from my nose. Since I had never had a nosebleed before I had no idea what was happening, and I completely freaked out. I’m sure my crying and thrashing about didn’t help matters any. Finally my mom was able to calm me down and explain what was going on – well, as much as you can explain to a four year old why blood is rushing from her nose.
Needless to say, I will never forget that!
If you’re someone who rarely gets nosebleeds, I would consider yourself lucky. Nosebleeds can be unnerving and messy, especially when they come on out of nowhere.
So what can cause a nosebleed – other than falling down the stairs, that is? How can you get a nosebleed to stop? And, can nosebleeds be an indication of something more serious? Keep reading for the answers to all of those questions and more.
A nosebleed happens when the membranes lining the inner nose are disturbed or irritated enough to cause abnormal bleeding.
There are two types of nosebleeds: anterior and posterior. If the bleeding is near the front of the nose, it is an anterior nosebleed. If the bleeding is from the back of the nose, it is a posterior nosebleed. An anterior nosebleed is usually not as severe or serious as a posterior nosebleed.
What causes nosebleeds?
The most common causes are:
• A breakdown in the membranes lining the nose, which can be triggered by dry air or probing, bumping, picking, rubbing or blowing your nose forcefully.
• A facial or nose injury. If you have a nosebleed after a head injury, it could mean you have a fractured skull. You should go to the hospital right away.
• High altitudes.
• Drug abuse involving the nose, such as cocaine snorting or glue sniffing.
• High blood pressure.
• Taking medicine designed to keep your blood from clotting.
• Medical problems that prevent your blood from clotting normally.
If you see your healthcare provider when you have a nosebleed, he or she will have you sit up and lean forward to determine the rate and site of the bleeding. Depending on the amount of bleeding, your provider may check your pulse and blood pressure and take a blood sample to check for anemia. You may need tests to check the ability of your blood to clot and your blood type in case you lose too much blood and need a transfusion.
What’s the best way treat a nosebleed yourself? Most nosebleeds are minor and respond to first aid. First aid for a nosebleed includes these steps:
• When your nose starts bleeding, sit up and lean forward to prevent blood from passing into your throat.
• Pinch the nose gently but firmly between the thumb and index finger, just below the nasal bones, and hold it for five full minutes.
• If it continues to bleed, hold it again for another five minutes.
• After the bleeding stops, use a saline nasal spray or saline nose drops to keep the nose moist. Do not blow your nose for several hours after the bleeding stops.
If a nosebleed lasts more than ten minutes in spite of first aid, see your healthcare provider immediately.
A healthy body will be better able to prevent nosebleeds and heal following one, so be sure to eat a healthy, well-balanced diet and add supplements to make up for any deficiencies.
And be careful when going down stairs!