Nose bleeds (epistaxes) are common and can range from a smear of blood seen on a handkerchief after a vigorous noseblow to a constant flow of blood requiring serious measures to resolve.
Many people have nosebleeds on occasions which then resolve and require no further treatment. Those seeking treatment however usually find the problem to significantly impact upon daily living and in these instances often seek medical treatment. Before getting to that stage however there are a few simple first aid measures that can be employed.
- When a nosebleed occurs it is best not to put the head back as this allows the blood to run down the throat. It is then swallowed and goes into the stomach. As blood irritates the stomach it can then cause vomiting, at which time the patient is thought to be in a much worse state than is usually the case as vomiting blood is always an alarming event.
- Pinching the bridge of the nose makes absolutely no difference to the nosebleed. The bleeding point is never that high- unless there has been preceding trauma and the nasal bones have been broken.
- Putting a key down the back of a shirt or top is also ineffective; an old wives tale to be blunt.
The best thing to do is to hold the head in the usual position when upright, pinch the front part of the nose ( the soft part that you can wiggle) between the thumb and index finger until the pressure has been applied to the correct area and the blood flow from the front of the nose stops. Hold that position for ten minutes. If you have ice cubes its useful to suck an ice cube against the roof of the mouth as this causes the blood vessels supplying the bleeding point to constrict.
For recurrent nose bleeds it is useful to try applying petroleoum gel (Vaseline) to the affected nostril at night before sleep and this can prevent the nasal mucosa from drying out and splitting leading to the rupture of a small blood vessel and further bleeding.
If this fails, referral to an ENT specialist is useful as assessment and cautery of the affected area is usually all that is required.
For more serious nosebleeds it is useful to get an ENT opinion earlier and in some cases as an urgent referral.
If you would like to arrange a consultation with Mr Banerjee to look into this condition further please contact us.