A nose bleed or “bloody nose” is likely to occur at least once in a person’s lifetime. It’s estimated that one out of seven individuals experience nose bleeds. While nose bleeds are more of a nuisance than a serious problem, recurring nose bleeds may indicate a symptom of a health issue that merits medical attention.
Types of Nose Bleeds
Divided into two distinct types, a nose bleed comes either from the front (anterior) or back (posterior) of the nose.
The anterior nose bleed is more commonplace and is associated with dry climates, allergies or the cold, winter months. When a nose bleed comes from the front of the nose, it often begins with a flow of blood out one nostril when the patient is sitting or standing.
A tried-and-true method of stopping the flow during an anterior nose bleed is to stay calm (particularly for children) and sit down. Leaning way back is actually not that helpful whereas leaning slightly forward will keep the blood from running down the throat. Remember to hold a tissue under the nose, dab or gently blow the nose. Later, with a soft tissue or cotton, pinch the nose slightly and hold for up to five minutes.
A posterior nose bleed is deeper back in the nostril and can trickle down the throat. It is very important to try and determine if it is an anterior or posterior nose bleed as the latter tend to be more serious. Posterior nose bleeds are more likely to occur in older people, persons with high blood pressure, and in cases of injury to the nose or face.
Recurring Nose Bleeds – Causes and Conditions
As indicated, allergies, dryness and infection can cause nose bleeds as well as vigorous nose-blowing. Inherited clotting disorders can run in families while recurring nose bleeds can be due to types of medications – like anticoagulants and anti-inflammatories. Additionally, a recurring nose bleed may indicate a more serious condition like a head injury, a skull fracture or a tumor, both malignant and non-malignant.
Consulting a Physician
ENT specialist and Michigan physician Dr. Haitham Masri can help determine if frequent nose bleeds are a problem.
An ear, nose, and throat specialist like Dr. Masri will use an endoscope to carefully examine the nose. This is used with a light to see inside of the nose which will help to determine the type of treatment. Two of the most common treatments are cautery and packing the nose. Cautery is a technique in which the blood vessel is burned with an electric current, silver nitrate, or a laser. Sometimes, a doctor may just pack the nose with special gauze or an inflatable latex balloon to put pressure on the blood vessel.
An ENT specialist may also recommend some guidelines to follow for preventing another nose bleed. It is best to treat dryness or an inflamed nose with petroleum jelly or antibiotic ointment for minor irritation and bleeds. Use a saline spray, keep fingernails on children trimmed, and do not strain or bend over and pick up heavy objects. If any nose bleed persists over 30 minutes, Dr. Masri recommends contacting a physician.