Epistaxis (nosebleeds): Causes, description, Treatment

Ear Nose | General Practice | Epistaxis (nosebleeds) (Disease)

Epistaxis (nosebleeds): Description

A nosebleed happens when one of the blood vessels in the lining of the nose bursts. The signs and symptoms of a nosebleed include: (1) bleeding from either or both nostrils; (2) a sensation of flowing liquid at the back of the throat; (3) the urge to swallow frequently.

Causes and Risk factors

Nosebleeds may be caused by infection, injury, allergic reaction, nose picking or an object being pushed into the nostril. Another name for nosebleed is epistaxis.

The most common cause is trauma from a finger or foreign body, or from drying of the nasal mucosa. Most bleeding is from the front part of the nose along the nasal septum. In this area is a collection of small arteries and veins called Kiesselbachs plexus and irritation of the nasal mucosa in this area can result in significant bleeding. Bleeding from the rear of the nose (posterior epistaxis) is more difficult to control and requires admission to the hospital.

There are two types: anterior (the most common), and posterior (less common, more likely to require medical attention). Sometimes in more severe cases, the blood can come up the nasolacrimal duct and out from the eye. Fresh blood and clotted blood can also flow down into the stomach and cause nausea and vomiting. As a result, any trauma to the face can cause bleeding which may be profuse.

Nosebleeds may be caused by infection, injury, allergic reaction, nose picking or an object being pushed into the nostril. Nosebleeds are common in children and are usually not serious.

Epistaxis (nosebleeds): Treatment and Diagnosis

The area of bleeding may be cauterized to stop the bleeding. Packing with Vaseline gauze, a special sponge, or a balloon may also be performed. Placement of a posterior balloon requires admission to the hospital. While waiting to get medical attention squeezing the soft part of the nose can temporarily stop bleeding

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