Although nosebleeds are very common and usually aren't a symptom of a more serious problem, they can be both frightening and troublesome if prolonged or recurrent.
Known medically as epistaxis, a nosebleed can usually be stopped by firmly pinching the soft part of the nose and leaning forward so that the blood drains down the nose rather than the throat. Putting ice on the nose can also be helpful.
However, you should seek medical advice if the bleeding is very heavy or prolonged (lasts longer than 20 minutes) or if you are having difficulty breathing. If you are suffering from repeated nosebleeds it may be worth consulting your GP, who may refer you to an ENT specialist.
What causes nosebleeds?
The inner layer of the nose is full of fine blood vessels that can be easily damaged. Damage can be caused by picking the inside of the nose, excessive blowing or an injury.
The nose is lined with a layer of membrane that keeps it moist. If the inside of the nose becomes dry as a result of changes in humidity or temperature, or following allergies, colds, infections or sinusitis, there is an increased risk of bleeding. A deviated septum can also lead to regular nosebleeds. This is because the passage of air through the nose is compromised, causing the membranes to become dry and cracked.
Although everyone gets nosebleeds now and again, you are at increased risk if you have a blood clotting disorder; take anticoagulants or aspirin regularly; or are pregnant. Children and the elderly are also more likely to suffer from regular nosebleeds.
What treatments are there for nosebleeds?
The nosebleeds themselves rarely need medical attention, but occasionally they may be a sign of something serious. For example, they could be a symptom of an underlying medical condition such as high blood pressure; or could be indicative of a blood clotting disorder. If a deviated septum is causing the problem then you may be a suitable candidate for a septoplasty. An ENT specialist, such as Mr Julian Hamann, will be able to investigate the underlying cause of your nosebleeds, and can then suggest an appropriate course of action.