Technically called epistaxis, nosebleeds are very common. In most cases, a bloody nose is considered as a mild condition, and is found to resolve on its own. Nevertheless, in some people, bleeding from the nose could be a sign of underlying diseases. For example, elderly people who have a high blood pressure, are more prone to nosebleeds than others of the same age group.
Based on the location of injury inside the nose, nosebleeds are classified into two types - anterior and posterior. In other words, bleeding may originate from the anterior or posterior parts of the nose. Anterior nosebleeds are very common, less severe, and can be easily controlled with home remedies. Posterior nosebleeds are less common, and are mostly found in elderly people. Such nosebleeds can be complicated, and requires medical attention.
Experiencing a nosebleed can be really scary, especially in case of kids. The condition is caused by damage of blood vessels on the inner side of the nose. The blood vessels can get damaged by various factors. Understanding the causes and risk factors will help to prevent the condition to a great extent.
What Causes a Bloody Nose?
A bloody nose need not be caused by a serious medical problem. In fact, exposure to very dry environmental conditions and nose injuries are the most common risk factors for nosebleeds. Nose picking is found to be a major cause for such bleeding in kids, who have the habit of inserting their fingers, cloths, or foreign objects inside the nostrils. Given below are some of the common causes for nosebleeds.
Dry Nose: During cold winter months, when the atmospheric humidity becomes too low, the nasal lining turns dry, and develop cracks that bleed. Even hot indoor air can cause nose dryness, which can be relieved with nose sprays. A humidifier can also be used for preventing a dry nose.
Nose Picking: Toddlers and young children have very sensitive nasal membranes. They often touch the inner surfaces of the nose, thereby causing injury to the blood vessels and nosebleeds. Nose picking can be a cause of such bleeding in adults too.
Excessive Nose Blowing: You might have noticed tinges of blood in the nasal discharge or post nasal drip. This could be due to hard and excessive nose blowing that causes inflammation of the nasal lining and damage of the blood vessels.
Side Effects of Medication: Many a time, it is the side effects of drugs that trigger a bloody nose condition. For individuals who are on medications that contain blood thinning ingredients, nosebleeds could be caused by such medicines, rather than other factors. In case of such side effects, consult your healthcare provider.
Hypertension: High blood pressure (hypertension) can cause a bloody nose, especially in elderly. Some people may experience nosebleeds, along with severe headache and shortness of breath; due to a sudden and rapid rise in blood pressure. The condition is termed hypertensive crisis.
Alcohol Abuse: Excessive consumption of alcohol can also be a trigger for nosebleeds. Alcohol lowers the ability to form blood clots, thereby promoting bleeding, even from minor injuries.
Other Causes: Excessive use of nasal decongestants and inhalation of chemical irritants are also considered as risk factors for nosebleeds. Physical trauma, deviated septum, hay fever, rhinitis, sinusitis, respiratory infections, liver and kidney diseases, and anemia, are some of the medical conditions that are linked to nosebleeds. Snorting of illegal drugs may also cause bleeding from the nose. Rarely, tumors and bleeding disorders may cause profuse bleeding from the nose.
Do not panic at the sight of blood oozing from the nose, rather be calm and stay upright. Apply direct pressure by pinching the soft part of the nose (just below the bridge), for about 10 minutes. This is effective for stopping the bleeding. Though occasional nosebleeds may not be a cause of concern, those with frequent nosebleeds must consult a healthcare provider, so as to diagnose the underlying cause, if any. You must seek immediate medical attention if the bleeding worsens or is accompanied with other symptoms.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice. Visiting your physician is the safest way to diagnose and treat any health condition.