Nosebleeds, also known as epistaxis, are common, affecting roughly 60% of Americans at least once in their lifetime. While most are not cause for alarm, about one in ten are serious enough to require medical attention. Being familiar with the signs can help you make an informed decision about whether the nosebleed can be easily treated at home or if you should visit your ENT.
What Are Nosebleeds?
There are two types of nosebleeds: anterior and posterior. When bleeding occurs in the front of the nose, which contains many small blood vessels that can break easily when irritated or inflamed, this is known as an anterior nosebleed. A posterior nosebleed is much rarer and occurs in the back of the nose.
Nosebleeds occur when the blood vessels in the nose are irritated, often caused by:
- Dry air
- Nasal allergies
- Injury to the nose
- Sinus infection
- Nasal polyps
- Overuse of nasal spray
- Picking the nose
Medical conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, cancer and blood clotting diseases can also cause nosebleeds.
Nosebleeds are most common in children between 2 and 10 and adults between 50 to 80 years old.
Categories of Nosebleeds
Nosebleeds can be broken down into three categories: those that can be treated at home, ones that you should make a doctor’s appointment to discuss and nosebleeds that require immediate medical attention.
Most nosebleeds can be treated at home by simply:
- Sitting down and leaning forward
- Pinching the tip of the nose and breathing through your mouth
- Appling pressure to the nose for 10 minutes, even if the bleeding has stopped
If nosebleeds begin to occur frequently, start after taking a new medication or occur along with chronic congestion or signs of easy bleeding or bruising, you should schedule an appointment with your doctor.
Nosebleeds require medical attention if they:
- Occur after a head injury
- Continue for more than 20 minutes
- Are accompanied by a fever and headache
If the nose appears to be broken, you begin coughing up blood or if you get dizzy or pass out from loss of blood, immediate medical attention is needed.
To learn more about how to prevent a nosebleed or to schedule an appointment to speak with a professional about your symptoms, contact Oregon Ear, Nose & Throat Center today.