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Nosebleeds can often induce panic due to the amount of blood they can produce. The good news is that they are very rarely a credible threat to a person’s health. Despite producing enough blood to turn your shirt into a CSI prop, only about 10% of nosebleeds are brought to the doctor or emergency room.
The nose can bleed from two sources, the anterior (front) and posterior (back) of the nose. Anterior nosebleeds are the most common, and usually get better without medical help. Posterior bleeds, on the other hand, can be more serious but are relatively rare.
Anterior nosebleeds usually originate from a bundle of blood vessels known as Kesselbach’s plexus, which you can find by inserting your finger into your nostril in a vertical point. Posterior nosebleeds come from the spheopalatine artery, which is too far in your nasal cavity to be reached under normal circumstances.
Nosebleeds are caused by inflammation of the mucous membranes because of infection, dryness to the mucous membranes due to environmental factors, foreign substances being inserted into the nose and trauma, such as falls or other injuries.
If you develop a nosebleed, stay calm, blow your nose to clear out mucus, hold your nose just below the tip for approximately 10 minutes, use a nasal spray, and apply ice to the bridge of the nose if it persists. If these do not work or the nosebleeds persist despite your best efforts, you may have a posterior nosebleed, which, as we have stated, is more serious and will require hospitalisation.
Under most circumstances, nosebleeds are not a major concern. You should only be concerned if the nosebleeds are recurring, if you are on special blood thinning medications, or if the nosebleed was caused by trauma and you believe the nose has been broken. If the nosebleed doesn’t fit any of these criteria, then you have nothing to worry about, as long as you have enough detergent and cold water to clean the blood off your clothes.
If you are prone to anterior nosebleeds, you can get Kesselbach’s plexus cauterised in a minor medical procedure. A posterior nosebleed is much more serious, since it’s arterial, and will require hospitalisation and surgical intervention.
It can be quite difficult to tell if it’s an anterior or posterior nosebleed, but if they are recurring and the usual methods do not prevent them, it may be a posterior nosebleed. If you are unsure, consult your doctor.
At Houston Sinus & Allergy, we assess patients for the severity of their condition, and determine a treatment. Book an assessment with our experienced ENT, Dr. Nguyen, and start feeling better.