A nosebleed in a child can be a dreadful sight for any parent. What are its various causes, and how they can be treated, is what we will see in this article.
Studies show that nearly 30% children between the ages of 0-5 years, 56% between the ages of 6-10 years, and 64% between the ages of 11-15 years have impulsive episodes of a nosebleed. Medically termed as epistaxis, nosebleeds primarily occur when there is bleeding from the internal blood vessels of the nose. Children usually have more cases of nosebleeds than adults, as they have a thinner mucous lining which can easily get damaged or inflamed.
Type of Nosebleeds
There are mainly two types of nosebleeds: posterior and anterior. Posterior nosebleeds are generally seen in older people with a high blood pressure. The bleeding normally takes place in the back of the nose and tends to run down the back of the throat into the mouth. Of the two, anterior nosebleeds are more common, where the bleeding occurs from the front of the nose and exits from the nostrils. It mainly occurs due to the damage or rupture of internal membranes of the nose. Nosebleeds in children or younger adults usually begin from the septum, the part of the body which is located inside the nose and divides the nasal chambers. Hence, bleeding from the back of the nose occurs rarely. This is most commonly found in the age group of 2 to 10 years.
Anterior nosebleeds are more common in dry climates or during winters. During this time, the dry air parches or desiccates the nasal membranes which eventually crust, crack and bleed. Children, much alike adults, can experience nosebleeds due to many other causes including:
- Trauma: An accident may cause injury to the nose which can further lead to nosebleeds. This is one of the most common causes of nose bleeding in children.
- Foreign Bodies: Foreign bodies like food, small toys, peas, etc. which kids put inside their nose, get shoved up the nose. They begin to decay and eventually irritate and erode the mucous membranes, causing nasal bleeding.
- Picking: Picking at the dried mucus, scratching the lining of the nose or pushing hard to abrade the lining with fingers especially fingernails can also cause a bloody nose in children.
- Infection and Allergies: Sinus and upper respiratory infections may cause inflammation which can increase the chances of nosebleeds. Allergies like rhinitis can also cause a bleeding nose.
- Seasonal Factors: In winter, when the weather lacks moisture, an overheated home or school can cause nasal passages to dry out, leading tissues to crack and bleed. In summers or spring, high pollen counts in the air cause allergies in children which can also be a probable cause for nose bleeding.
- Structural Abnormalities: Abnormal structure in the nose like nasal polyps or a deviated nasal septum can be another probable cause of nosebleeds.
- Vigorous Nose Blowing: As the tissues and mucus lining of the kids is very soft and thin, vigorous nose blowing may result in the breaking of the tissues, which may in turn lead to a bleeding nose.
- Medications: Medications like ibuprofen, aspirin, etc., are known to interfere with the blood clotting process. These medications do not cause nosebleeds but they might aggravate the condition and may cause problems in blood clotting.
Following are some of the treatments which you can use as first-aid in case of a nosebleed.
- The first step to be followed is to make the child sit upright on a chair or on your lap and tilt his or her head slightly forward.
- Slightly pinch the nose with a tissue or a soft cloth and apply pressure for about 10 minutes.
- You can also apply ice wrapped in a cloth. Keep doing this for sometime as it may start bleeding again.
- Do not make the child lean back as the blood may flow down into the throat and can cause gagging, coughing, or vomiting.
- Once it stops bleeding, deter your child from nose-blowing, picking, or rubbing, and any rough play.
- Encourage the use of a humidifier or vaporizer throughout the year, especially in dry weather, to humidify the environment.
- Besides this, use a saline (salt water) spray three to four times a day. This helps to reduce drying out of the mucus membranes in the nose and prevents nosebleeds.
Preventive measures like wearing protective athletic equipment while participating in sports or cutting the child’s nails regularly can help minimize the risk of having a bloody nose due to an injury or nose picking. However, if the bleeding occurs from both the nostrils and continues for more than 15 minutes, along with a feeling of dizziness or weakness, do not delay. Instantly consult your pediatrician.
Disclaimer: This Buzzle article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.