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The Bloody surprise: A piece on nose bleeding

Dr. Akin-Onitolo A.



Dimeji was eleven when he resumed secondary school. As a new boarder, he was roomed with a mixture of old and new boys, the old ones expected to guide the new through the first term. They soon fell into groups with like interests but one interest pervaded all the cliques – soccer.



One afternoon in the post-exam period, the seniors organized a match between houses. Dimeji was selected amongst the twenty-two to represent Yellow house. He was a natural at the sport having often played the role of goalkeeper in a family of six boys. His large size stamped the position for him.
Christmas was a few weeks away, and harmattan had blanketed the entire school, freezing his bath water overnight and making his skin a crisscross of fine white lines. The afternoons were unbearably hot and he had somehow gotten a cold along with half of his room mates. Yet the boys barely noticed the weather as they bickered around the sandy field and the players geared up. It was Yellow house against Blue.

Just before the whistle went, Dimeji blew his nose into the dust, his face a fixed mask of concentration. The match was tough from the very beginning, the bigger Blue house boys roughly ploughed through his team’s defence within minutes. Dimeji threw himself on his side to save the ball. He jumped as high as the goalpost bar to nod it away with his head. He ignored the growing headache behind his eye.
Catarrh trickled down his upper lip, he flicked it out of sight with his tongue, all the time watching the ball acutely. He barely noticed it tasted funny, somewhat like water from a rusty pipe. The players advanced toward him again, the mildly bow-legged captain of the Blue house boys led the onslaught. But Dimeji was too quick for him. A swift swipe of his right arm tossed the ball into the corner.



He hurriedly picked himself off the ground to the sound of the whistle and the entire school converging around him with wide, scared eyes, talking in confused chorus. “Sick bay.” He distantly heard the head-boy/referee shout. Then he was being carried off the field and away. The strange tasting catarrh still streamed down his nose and he reached up to wipe it, a pool of red filled his palms.



This story brings us to the matter of Nosebleeds, a quite common experience that affects 1 in 10 people at some point in their lives. They could affect the anterior or posterior parts of the nose. Bleeding from the anterior nose is commoner and can be managed with a few easy steps. In fact, most cases are treated at home.

Important steps to take include:
1. Stay calm. Being hysterical may worsen the bleeding,

2. Sit upright, lean forward. This would prevent blood from flowing to the back of the throat,

3. Pinch the soft parts of the nose together for about 10-15 minutes. Like a tourniquet, it would put pressure on the source of the bleed to make it stop. Breathe through your mouth while you do this,

4. It may help to place an ice pack over your nose,




5. If there’s no stopping, you would need to go to the hospital for further treatment. This may also be needed if you have lost a lot of blood, feel breathless or have palpitations.

When the bleeding has stopped, do not blow/pick your nose, do strenuous exercise, bend over or lift heavy objects. When you sneeze, do so with your mouth open to reduce the pressure in your nose.



If you have nosebleeds that happen over and over, you may need to see an ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist in order to find the root cause and treat it. More on the causes of nosebleeds and useful tips for preventing them especially as the harmattan season approaches, are available. We would love to hear from you as usual.


N.B: Palpitations refers to being aware of your heartbeat. It can be associated with anaemia, heightened emotions, and heart disease.

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Dr. Akin-onitolo A. is a graduate of the University of Lagos whose mission is to achieve the sustainable development goals (SDGs) using health promotion and improved health literacy. She is an MDCN (Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria) certified doctor who had her elective at King's College London. Hugely interested in travel, meeting people and generally being creative, reading and writing fiction are a few hobbies you could find her engaged in during her spare time. Catch up with her on Twitter @Akinonitolo and Instagram @t_onitolo