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Mar 2024

What is Nosebleed (Epistaxis)? Know the cause and diagnosis

Posted By Suborna Fermi Posted on Mar 15, 2024

From high blood pressure to dry air, various factors can contribute to nosebleeds. It generally happens when you lose blood from the tissue that lines the inside of the nose. Although nosebleeds are not a cause for concern, consult your doctor if the nosebleeds do not stop or frequent nosebleeds occur.

What is epistaxis?

Epistaxis, most commonly known as nosebleeds, means the loss of blood from the tissue that lines the inside of the nose. Although it usually affects one nostril, it can also affect both nostrils.

Your nose has many blood vessels in it that help moisten and warm the air you breathe. As the blood vessels lie close to the inner surface of your nose, dry air can irritate the blood vessels. This can injure the blood vessels, and cause a nosebleed.

How common is a nosebleed?

A nosebleed, or epistaxis, is common. On average, about 60% of people may have experienced at least one nosebleed in their lifetime. Only around 10% of people may experience severe nosebleeds that require medical treatment.

What causes nosebleeds?

Nosebleeds may occur due to several reasons. Fortunately, the reasons are not usually critical. The most common cause is dry air. Many factors, including a hot and low humidity climate, can cause dry air.

Dry air can cause the nasal membrane to dry out, which makes it prone to bleed when rubbed or blowing the nose. Other common causes may include:

  • Cold air
  • Allergic reaction
  • Foreign object stuck in the nose
  • Injury to the nose
  • Picking the nose
  • Upper respiratory infection
  • Chemical irritants
  • Repeated sneezing

Health conditions that cause nosebleeds may include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Blood clotting disorders
  • Bleeding disorders
  • Cancer

Nosebleeds generally do not require medical treatment. However, make sure to seek medical treatment right away if a nosebleed lasts longer than 20 minutes. Injuries, including an accident, a fall, or a punch on the face, may also cause a nosebleed. Nosebleeds that occur after an accident may indicate a broken nose, internal bleeding, or a skull fracture.

How is a nosebleed diagnosed?

If you seek medical help for a nosebleed, your doctor will do a physical examination to determine the underlying cause of the nosebleed. They might also want to know about your health history and the medicines you are currently taking.

Also, make sure to let your doctor know whether you have had any injuries or are experiencing other symptoms. Your doctor may recommend certain diagnostic tests to determine the cause. The tests may include a complete blood count, nasal endoscopy, partial thromboplastin time, a CT scan of the nose, and an X-ray of the face and nose.

The treatment of nosebleeds may vary depending on the causes and types. Nosebleeds are common and often not critical. Anterior nosebleeds usually occur suddenly but do not last long. These types of nosebleeds can be treated at home. However, posterior nosebleeds can be very serious and require medical emergency treatment.

To prevent nosebleeds, make sure to keep an air humidifier at home, and use nasal spray to keep the nasal passages moist. Seek medical help immediately, if you or a person experience a nosebleed lasting for more than 20 minutes.