Quite common, nosebleeds can happen to any one regardless of age. The nose is apt to bleed because it has many tiny and fragile blood vessels. Depending on the location of the source of the bleed, it can be called anterior or posterior; anterior bleeds are commoner especially in the dry season which is fast approaching. The bleeding is often from the lower part of the dividing-wall/septum of the nose known as Little’s area.
The reasons why nosebleeds happen: Though the cause may be unknown, they are often attributed to;
1. Dryness which can be caused by Harmattan or smoking,
2. A blow to the nose or picking the nose with a sharp fingernail, sneezing or blowing the nose too hard,
3. Allergies, infections like cold or flu,
4. Bleeding disorders, for example, haemophilia, can cause abnormal bleeding from the nose, gums, into a joint, into the skin, after sustaining an injury or even after surgery,
5. Road traffic accidents or other accident (e.g. a fall) causing fracture to the base of the skull, fracture of the nose, or after a surgery in the nose,
6. High blood pressure, or atherosclerosis – abnormally thickened blood vessel walls,
7. Drugs like warfarin (blood thinning/anticoagulant medication), aspirin (largely used to prevent heart attacks),
8. Tumours and abnormal growths in the nose
Nosebleeds have been noted to affect certain people more commonly such as children, elderly adults, and pregnant women.
Some useful tips to prevent nosebleeds include:
1. Apply a little petroleum jelly/Vaseline inside the nose and especially on the septum to combat dryness, this may be done several times in a day,
2. Keep short fingernails,
3. Use saline (salt water) nose drops to keep the nose moist, breathe moist air, use a humidifier indoors,
4. Don’t blow your nose forcefully,
5. Don’t use just any pain relief, especially aspirin, without prescription. Avoid overuse of allergy medication. Do not use illegal drugs like cocaine and amphetamines. Quit smoking,
6. Ensure good control of your blood pressure,
7. Use a safety helmet/guard to protect your head when participating in activities that could cause injury to the head
If you are unable to prevent them, even with the above tips, and they happen again and again, you may require specialist attention. You can find first aid tips for nosebleeds on this site.
Sometimes however, the bleeding may continue. Further treatments like nasal packing with gauze or special nasal sponges in order to apply pressure to the suspected source of the bleed, cautery to burn the bleeding vessel, blood transfusion if there is anaemia and medication to help the blood clot.
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