No matter your age or creed, suffering from a nosebleed can be overwhelming. Caught off guard, people are often left to cope when resources are lacking.
The loss of blood can cause significant physiological changes if not terminated promptly.
In addition, unlike in Hollywood blockbusters, the taste of blood in the mouth does not unleash fiery fury, but rather contributes to both nausea and vomiting. Clots of blood obstructing the airway can lead to further problems.
You need to know the basic first aid principles and understand a bit about the anatomy of the nose.
What causes nosebleeds?
The causes range from obvious trauma to blood clotting problems, as some people are known to have a blood platelet deficiency.
Medications are also implicated in nosebleeds, and anti-clotting therapy and medications such as warfarin and aspirin are well known culprits.
Stop the bleeding
WHAT you should do if your nose starts bleeding:
l Pinch the mid-portion of the nose between index finger and thumb. l Sit down, with your head between your legs, while pinching your nose tightly. Place an ice pack on the back of your neck. Allow clots to be passed from the mouth. Try to limit coughing or sneezing as this increases pressure.
The most common causes are related to allergic rhinitis, when dry plaques of nasal mucus break off, exposing the superficial capillaries which then bleed. This happens especially in hot dry weather, as well as in places where air-conditioning and the level of moisture of the air plays a role. Elevated systemic blood pressure can also lead to epistaxis.
When should I seek medical help?
If the bleeding cannot be controlled within 10-15 minutes you should go to your nearest ER.
Mechanical compression devices like the Rapid Rhino balloon are used to exert pressure in the nasal passages and stop the bleeding.
The device is inserted and pumped up by means of an air-filled syringe. It is usually kept in the nose for at least six hours and with review can be removed and the bleeding inspected during a follow-up. Persistent nosebleeds, where no obvious precipitating factor is found, deserve further investigation and should not be taken lightly as this could point toward a systemic illness.
For chronic nosebleeds, insist on a full blood count as a platelet deficiency is often missed. Anaemia can also occur. Before the days of balloon devices, doctors would use BIPP paste ribbon gauze.